Yankees battling 2 teams for star bullpen arm’s signature

mlb: alcs-texas rangers at houston astros, yankees, hector neris
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees were hoping to make a bigger splash signing in the starting rotation than Marcus Stroman, but he should get the job done until the summer trade deadline when general manager Brian Cashman can reevaluate the team’s circumstances.

However, Cashman is still looking for pitching support in the bullpen and has been linked to a number of quality relief pitchers. Most recently, former Houston Astro Hector Neris has been connected to the Bombers as a potential free agent acquisition, but the Yankees are fending off two teams for his signature, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

The Astros recently lost one of their bullpen arms, so naturally, Neris makes sense as a potential candidate for return. The Texas Rangers are also involved in the sweepstakes, but the Yankees know they may have to rely heavily on their bullpen in the first half of the year, especially since their rotation is a major concern.

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The Yankees are Playing a Risky Game

Relying on Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes to bounce back is already a risky play, and Stroman hasn’t pitched over 140 innings in years, not to mention Clarke Schmidt is still developing. Their only guaranteed arm is Gerrit Cole, so there’s a very real possibility the Yankees will require their bullpen to take over and help supplement inconsistencies. Neris can help with that strategy since the 34-year-old is coming off a tremendous 2023 season.

Neris pitched 68.1 innings this past year, enjoying a 1.71 ERA, 3.83 FIP, a 90.5% left-on-base rate, and a 31.8% ground ball rate. While his walks ticked up a bit over the last three seasons, he was primarily effective, and the Yankees could use another solid pitcher in their ranks. He did decline an $8.5 million player option for the 2024 season, so the Yankees will conceivably have to pay up to around $10 million per season to acquire his services.

Of course, the Yankees have had plenty of success developing underrated talent and lesser-known arms, but Neris has experience pitching in the World Series and during playoff baseball, which is something the Yankees desperately need given their youth.

The Astros needing a bullpen arm certainly doesn’t bode well for the Yankees’ chances of landing Neris. They are still in the mix. Cashman has been cautious over spending on older players, which is why he elected to take a more affordable route than offer Blakes Snell a lucrative deal.