In a week that has seen a rapid acceleration of moves being made across the league to acquire the remaining free agent relievers, the Chicago Cubs have reportedly made their long awaited move to address the bullpen.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Cubs and veteran reliever Hector Neris have agreed to a one-year deal worth $9 million.
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Passan notes the deal includes an option for 2025 that converts to a player option if Neris were to play 60 games.
The long-awaited move is the second addition to the Cubs' bullpen this offseason, following the acquisition of Yency Almonte alongside infielder Michael Busch in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Neris, 34, is coming off what was measurably the best season of his career, posting a 6-3 record and a 1.71 ERA across 71 games and 68.1 innings of work with the Houston Astros.
The right-hander struck out 77 batters while walking 31 and allowing seven home runs, amounting to a 1.054 WHIP.
While Neris' numbers were outstanding, the peripherals leave mild cause for concern, as his 3.83 FIP suggests that the veteran was helped out by some luck and solid defense.
Prior to his recent two-year stint in Houston, Neris was a longtime fixture of the Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen, showcasing durability and mostly above average numbers across his tenure there.
Though it's fair to assume that Neris' closing days are over, he does have 89 career saves to his name thanks to primarily serving that role for the Phillies from 2017-2019. This could offer the Cubs more flexibility than they had in 2023 should injury or performance issues arise with incumbent closer Adbert Alzolay.
The addition of Neris also provides stiffer competition for spots in the Cubs' bullpen, with arms such as Luke Little, Daniel Palencia, José Cuas and Michael Rucker in the mix alongside more established relievers.
That of course doesn't even include upstart minor league arms such as Cade Horton and Ben Brown, both of whom could see time at the big leagues in 2024.
Serving as the second major free agent signing of the offseason for the Cubs, the North Siders address a clear hole that led to their September demise by snagging the best reliever left on the free agency market.