Jimmy Nelson was a league average starter up until 2017, when he posted a 3.49 and 4.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for the Milwaukee Brewers in 175.1 innings.
Injuries then ruined the subsequent three seasons, but he returned as a reliever in 2021 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He pitched 29 masterful innings in which he struck out 44 hitters and posted a 1.86 ERA.
Then he blew out his shoulder and needed Tommy John surgery, which is why he missed the entire 2022 campaign.
The Dodgers secured his services again on a one-year contract for 2023.
The deal has a curious structure: he will collect $1.2 million, with a chance to make $4 million with bonuses.
How do the bonuses work?
We will let MLB insider Fabian Ardaya explain.
“Jimmy Nelson’s incentive structure is unique. Per source, he gets a ‘point’ for every game started or relief appearance of 10 or more outs (3 1/3 IP), $250K for reaching 10 pts, 12 pts, 14 pts, 16 pts, 18 pts, 20 pts. $500K each for reaching 22 pts, 24 pts, 26 pts, 28 pts, 30 pts,” he tweeted.
Jimmy Nelson’s incentive structure is unique. Per source, he gets a “point” for every game started or relief appearance of 10 or more outs (3 1/3 IP)
$250K for reaching 10 pts, 12 pts, 14 pts, 16 pts, 18 pts, 20 pts
$500K each for reaching 22 pts, 24 pts, 26 pts, 28 pts, 30 pts https://t.co/z1ZaEKD0xL
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) February 16, 2023
This indicates two things: one, the Dodgers are convinced that he can be a difference-maker if fully healthy; and two, they intend to use Nelson as a jack-of-all-trades pitcher but with some length in mind.
He could start, he could be a bulk reliever or a multi-inning guy, but the organization would like him to cover multiple innings (or outs, which would be the most accurate measurement today) whenever he takes the ball.
It could work, and it could help him remain under some sort of schedule.
The main question with Nelson is health.
His bonus starts kicking in with 10 appearances of at least 10 outs.
Will he be healthy enough to reach that number?NEXT: Clayton Kershaw Shares Curious Explanation For Missing The WBC