PHILADELPHIA -- Héctor Neris will leave the Phillies as one of the greatest relievers in franchise history.
Now they must find somebody to replace him.
A source on Saturday afternoon confirmed an NBC Sports Philadelphia report that Neris plans to sign a two-year contract with the Astros, pending a physical. The Athletic reported the deal is worth $17 million. Multiple sources said the Phillies wanted to re-sign Neris, but somewhere along the way they fell short.
It is a loss. The Phillies have prioritized bullpen upgrades this offseason, along with finding a new left fielder and center fielder. Neris made sense for them as a setup man.
Fortunately, there are options for the Phillies to make up for it. Free-agent relievers like Raisel Iglesias, Kenley Jansen, Ryan Tepera, Collin McHugh and Mark Melancon remain on the open market. Relievers are often traded, too.
But Neris, 32, was a known quantity and a valued presence in the Phillies’ clubhouse. He leaves the organization as the franchise’s all-time leader in strikeouts by a relief pitcher with 520. He leaves eighth in saves with 84.
Neris had tremendous highs, but also tremendous lows, which always seemed to bump him from the closer’s role. It happened again in 2021. Neris posted a 9.00 ERA and blew four saves in six opportunities in a seven-game stretch from June 10-26. But Neris recovered and had a 2.51 ERA in his final 40 appearances, striking out 59 and walking 16 in 43 innings.
Neris was particularly hurt this season by the Phillies’ defense. When he was on the mound, the defense performed at -9 Outs Above Average, according to Statcast. It not only ranked last on the Phillies, but placed last out of 297 qualified pitchers in baseball.
Neris’ last Phillies moment will be striking out Jazz Chisholm in the fifth inning on the final day of the regular season in Miami, which allowed him to pass Ron Reed for the franchise’s strikeout record for relievers.
“I started to cry,” Neris said about setting the record. “I don’t know how to explain to you the emotions that I’m feeling. I was prepared for that, I waited for that and I wanted that. I got it.”