In a strategic move, right-hander Héctor Neris has declined the player option with the Houston Astros, steering his career towards free agency. This pivotal decision comes after a stellar performance that saw Neris exceed the required appearances in his two-year $17 million contract with Houston.
The stipulation for transforming the club option into a player option hinged on Neris pitching in at least 110 games over the 2022–2023 seasons, a mark he surpassed with a total of 141 games. Neris, who celebrated his 34th birthday in June, continues to defy the odds with a remarkable 1.71 ERA over 68 1/3 innings in 2023, signaling that age has not yet dampened his prowess on the mound.
Despite a slightly worrying walk rate of 11.4%, Neris' overall statistics tell a story of dominance, particularly in his ability to minimize hard hits, positioning him among baseball's elite in that category. The formidable pitcher was a critical component in the Astros' bullpen, often called upon in the seventh or eighth inning to snuff out the opposition's hopes, a task he performed with impressive consistency.
His prowess was on full display during the Astros' triumphant 2022 World Series run, where he posted a 1.50 ERA across eight appearances.
Neris' Market Versatility
Neris, with ten years of Major League Baseball experience under his belt, is hitting the market at a time when teams are keenly scouting for proven relievers, and his background as a former closer for the Phillies adds a layer of versatility to his profile.
While he may initially be sought after as a setup man, his capacity to step into save situations adds to his appeal in a bullpen market that's bustling with potential but has already seen some early closures, like the Atlanta Braves securing deals with Pierce Johnson and Joe Jiménez.
Neris' combination of a deadly 84-mph splitter and a consistent 93-mph fastball has made him a subject of interest for clubs seeking to bolster their late-game options. With his recent performance and the market's current dynamics, Neris is poised to secure a deal that not only reflects his worth but also cements his standing as one of the more compelling bullpen arms available in free agency.