Cashing In On Hector Neris

Jun 29, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Hector Neris against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 29, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Hector Neris against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Phillies have trade pieces to offer during the August waiver period, as well as in the upcoming off-season.

The biggest takeaway from the MLB non-waiver trading deadline was the otherworldly returns teams were getting for top relievers to contenders.

Since the 2015 Kansas City Royals made having a dominant bullpen something that helps achieve and ultimately win a World Series, other teams have been trying to play catch-up when it comes to building a dominating relief corps.

You could say that it started with the Phillies and their December trade sending Ken Giles to the Houston Astros for four young pitchers, one of whom, Vincent Velasquez, has become arguably the best pitcher on the current staff.

Couple that with the Yankees trading (in a shady deal) for Aroldis Chapman to go with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, as well as the Red Sox using some of their prospect capital to land Craig Kimbrel, and you can see that teams are looking to make games even shorter by having hard-throwing finishers to end a game.

Fast forward to this trade deadline and you can see that teams are no longer shy about parting with top prospects if it means acquiring a player who can potentially end games on a consistent basis.

When the Cubs acquired Chapman, they gave up their best position player prospect, Gleyber Torres, as well as one of their top outfield prospects in Billy McKinney.

To obtain Miller, the Indians gave up their best prospect, outfielder Clint Frazier, who is already in Triple A, as well as a highly regarded pitching prospect, Justus Sheffield, that is a little further away.

In adding Will Smith to their bullpen, the Giants gave up their top starting pitching prospect, Phil Bickford, as well as a future starter behind the plate in Andrew Susac.

All in all, it’s clearly been established that the asking prices for good relievers has gone up and will continue skyward. The Phillies can still get in on this trend yet again and consider trading Hector Neris this offseason.

Save for a bout of inconsistency in May, Neris has been quite good in 2016 as a building block for this bullpen, striking out 31% of hitters this year, yet walking only 7.4%.

He’s only allowed seven home runs and has limited his hits allowed, with opposing hitters amassing only a .201 average against him.

Like a lot of great relievers, he’s developed a signature pitch that, despite having a little shakiness with it that isn’t all that rare with young pitchers, has been downright dominant at times this year. All in all, with some good development, Neris is a guy who can be counted on in tough situations.

In an effort to continue to exploit the potential trade market for relievers, this offseason might be the time to cash in on Neris for a few reasons.

First is the aforementioned trade value he might be able to yield in return. To borrow from Sam Miller, it’s fun to think about what he might command on the trade market.

His positives are easy to see – good numbers, lots of team control (arbitration eligible in 2019, free agent in 2022). His negatives are his youth and (relative) inexperience.

The same could have been said about Giles and he ended up netting the Astros’ top pitching prospect (Mark Appel), one of their best young MLB arms (Velasquez), their #13 prospect (Thomas Eshelman) and a depth lefty arm (Brett Oberholtzer).

While Neris is nowhere near as dominant as Giles, it’s realistic to assume he might command 85% of what Giles cost. Is it fair to think he could get the Phillies a team’s #5 prospect, their #15-20 prospect and a wild card arm/bat?

That would be quite a return for a guy who was released by the Royals not long ago.

Another reason to think about trading Neris is that the emergence of Edubray Ramos gives them a ready-made replacement who is emerging as a quality arm himself.

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Through Tuesday’s game, Ramos has posted a 3.20 ERA to go with a 27.9% strikeout rate and another low walk rate himself (7.9%). He’s averaging right around 95 miles per hour on his fastball that he complements with a slider that hitters are only hitting .077 against.

With a little more development to be made, Ramos can himself develop into a top flight reliever that could effectively replace Neris in the event of a trade, and possibly become the Phillies closer at some point.

There is little doubt that the front office has considered this possibility already, and quite probably did a lot of legwork during this trading deadline. In the offseason, there would be more suitors who think that adding a bullpen piece like Neris might bring them a little closer to getting into the playoff picture, which means driving up the price on him.

Trading Neris is definitely something to consider for a Phillies team that still looks to be more than a few pieces away from contention.

Next: Phils Pitchers Getting Ahead, But Not Getting it Done