3. Hector Neris
- 2021 Salary: $5 million
- 2022 Salary: Free Agent
Dealing away right-handed reliever Hector Neris now might seem like the wrong move, given the overhaul of the bullpen. Why give up on him? Why not see what he can do in 2021?
The fact of the matter is, the Dominican Republic native is bound to lose his closer role to one of the other relievers acquired this offseason. Archie Bradley is the darkhorse favorite to be manager Joe Girardi‘s go-to arm late in games. The skipper has not given Bradley an official role, but said during his introductory press conference that they would see how things work out in spring training.
Star catcher J.T. Realmuto recently praised his newest battery teammate in an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. “He brings a lot of swagger and a lot of confidence. Archie is a confident guy and rightfully so,” Realmuto said. “He’s been extremely successful and is one of the most successful relievers in baseball the last three years. That’s obviously something that we need.”
Let’s face it: the Phillies did not pay Bradley $6 million to be a set-up man. Neris has been used as a closer in each of his past five seasons. How would he be able to adjust not pitching in the ninth inning of save situations, but rather the sixth, seventh, or eighth frames?
Recently agreeing to a one-year, $5 million deal to avoid arbitration, Neris is the second-highest paid reliever in the bullpen behind only Bradley. While Neris did not surrender a single home run in 2020, his ERA and WHIP skyrocketed from 2.93 and 1.020 in 2019, to 4.57 and 1.708 respectively this past season. The worst-case scenario is that he continues to trend in the wrong direction.
Could the Phillies look to trade Neris, not be tied to his $5 million salary, and spend it elsewhere at some point later on? Time will tell.