Astros right-hander Hector Neris made his 110th appearance tonight since signing a two-year, $17MM deal with Houston prior to the 2022 season. Tonight’s appearance triggered a clause in that contract converts the deal’s $8.5MM team option ($1MM buyout) into a player option. Neris needed to reach either 60 appearances in 2023 or 110 appearances between 2022 and 2023 to convert the option. With tonight’s appearance in the books, the 34-year-old righty will have control of the option this coming offseason, though the Associated Press notes that if Neris ends the 2023 campaign on the injured list or fails to pass a physical after the season, the Astros will retain control of the option.
If the second half of Neris’s 2023 campaign goes as well as the first half has, the righty will surely decline the option if given the opportunity. Prior to tonight’s scoreless outing, Neris boasted a 1.47 ERA in 36 2/3 innings of work, good for a whopping 287 ERA+. Neris’s peripherals leave room for some mild concern: he sports a rather high 10.4% walk rate, has stranded a whopping 95.8% of baserunners, and has allowed a career-low .232 BABIP. Of course, the regression one might expect given those numbers is baked into advanced metrics. Those metrics are rather bullish on Neris: the righty sports a solid 3.73 FIP, an excellent 2.76 xERA and a strong 3.55 SIERA.
Neris will be entering his age-35 season in 2024, so it’s possible that his age will limit any multi-year offers he receives in free agency. Even if that turns out to be the case, however, it’s certainly feasible for Neris could surpass the $7.5MM he’d be leaving on the table by testing the open market. After all, David Robertson landed a one-year, $10MM deal with the Mets last offseason entering his age-38 campaign after posting a 2.40 ERA and 3.58 FIP in his first fully healthy season since 2018.
In the meantime, Neris figures to be the Astros’ top setup option for closer Ryan Pressly as Houston looks to defend its 2022 World Series championship. The club is currently 50-40, two games back of the Rangers for control of the AL West and one game ahead of the Yankees and Blue Jays for the second of three AL Wild Card spots.