The Philadelphia Phillies have avoided arbitration with one of their nine eligible players, agreeing to a one-year contract with reliever Hector Neris.
Neris reportedly agreed to a deal worth $1.8 million per numerous sources. That figure is more than triple his 2018 salary, and totals nearly as much as he made overall to this point in his big-league career.
The 29-year-old (he turns 30 in June) is a native of the Dominican Republic. Over parts of five seasons he has a career 3.39 ERA and 1.201 WHIP. The right-hander has allowed 211 hits over 244 innings pitched across 239 games, all of those in relief.
Neris registered 26 Saves in the 2017 season and appeared set for a long run as the Phillies closer. He began the 2018 season back in that role, but lost his grip on the job, even finding himself demoted to the minors at the end of June.
In mid-August, Neris returned, and was born-again-hard. From the point of his return he allowed just 11 hits over 17.2 innings across 20 games. He also dominated opposing hitters to the tune of a 35:5 K/BB ratio and a .172 batting average against, surrendering no home runs.
For that improved performance, Neris was named as the National League Reliever of the Month for August of 2018. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was quoted by Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia back in mid-September in the midst of the Neris resurgence:
“This is a Hector Neris I’m not sure any of us have seen. This is a better version. Since he’s been back, this is a better version of him than his best last season or the season prior.”
Neris will join a Phillies contingent that also includes Kapler, broadcaster Tom McCarthy, and fellow players Nick Pivetta, Andrew Knapp, and Dylan Cozens at the Phillies Winter Caravan when it hits Reading, Pennsylvania on January 22.
Unless offered a long-term contract at some point, Neris will be forced to go year-to-year through this same process after each of the next three seasons. This was his first year of arbitration eligibility. He cannot become a free agent until after the 2021 season.
The Phillies still need to negotiate deals with infielders Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez, outfielder Aaron Altherr, and pitchers Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, Adam Morgan, and newcomer Jose Alvarez.
Teams must exchange salary figures with their arbitration-eligible players by tomorrow, Friday, January 11. You can expect that Neris will not be the last of their eligible players to agree on a one-year deal before that point.
The Phillies are likely to continue negotiating with any of their eligible players who don’t sign by Friday right up until any scheduled hearings. Any who do not reach a deal with the club would go to an arbitration hearing during the month of February.
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