Source: Neris declines player option, becomes free agent

Source: Neris declines player option, becomes free agent

HOUSTON — As expected, relief pitcher Hector Neris declined his $8.5 million player option for 2024, a source told MLB.com on Sunday. The club has not confirmed the move.

The decision makes the 34-year-old Neris a free agent, joining fellow relief pitchers Ryne Stanek and Phil Maton, outfielder Michael Brantley and catcher Martín Maldonado as Houston’s five free agents this offseason. The Astros would like still like to re-sign Neris because of his effectiveness and his popularity in the Houston clubhouse.

“All of the guys that we have that are either free agents or if their contract expired, we’re going to talk, and we’re going to be in communication with their agents and some of the players,” Astros general manager Dana Brown said last week.

Signed after the 2021 season following eight years with the Phillies, Neris was an integral member of the Astros’ bullpen in their run to a World Series title in 2022. He recorded a 3.72 ERA over 70 regular-season appearances before allowing just one run across eight postseason appearances. That included holds in Game 5 and the clinching Game 6 of the World Series.

Neris followed up that success with the best season of his career in 2023. He registered a career-low 1.71 ERA in 71 appearances and landed in the 95th percentile or higher in expected batting average (.194) and hard-hit rate (28.2%). Neris’ four-seam fastball, which accounted for more than half of his pitches thrown this season, limited hitters to a .153 average and a .306 slugging percentage.

Neris owns a 3.24 career ERA with 676 strikeouts through 541 1/3 innings.

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