Yankees’ bullpen target is seeking a free agent deal north of $7 million annually

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
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The New York Yankees are among teams who have spoken to representatives of Hector Neris but are expected to face competition from teams like the New York Mets, according to SNY’s Andy Martino. The 34-year-old is expected to get a contract between $7 million and $11 million for a one or two-year deal and is also attracting suitors outside of New York as the reliever market begins to heat up. Given the Yankees’ desire to get bullpen help, they’ve been heavily involved in the reliever market, and Neris could be a great addition to their roster.

Neris had a career year last year putting up a 1.71 ERA across 71 appearances and collecting two saves in the process, and won a World Series with the Houston Astros in 2022.

Should the Yankees Pay For Hector Neris?

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It was reported by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com last week that the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers were potential front runners for Hector Neris. There have been conflicting reports about the Yankees’ interest as Jack Curry on Hot Stove said that the Yankees and Neris are not expected to agree on a contract. It’s well documented that Brian Cashman is looking for bullpen help as they’ve shown interest and have had conversations with both Wandy Peralta and Keynan Middleton.

What might give the Yankees an edge here over a team like the Mets is the fact that they’re a win-now team according to Martino, which makes sense given Neris’ age. Interest from other teams could present a challenge for the Yankees to overcome, although the demands on a potential deal aren’t terribly high. Fear of regression is likely baked into whatever teams are offering, as it seems well-established that the Dominican-born closer won’t get as much on the market as Robert Stephenson (three-year, $33 million contract).

The Yankees would still be adding a versatile weapon for their bullpen, however, as Neris can pitch to both righties and lefties thanks to a nasty splitter, and can serve as a late-inning option or closer depending on the situation. Adding another high-leverage option to the bullpen after they finished with the best ERA in baseball (3.34) would make the strength of the team even more formidable, and it would give them a cushion if their rotation falters.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs
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Following their addition of Marcus Stroman, the rotation is seemingly set, but concerns about health and durability remain. Only two of the Yankees’ five projected starters for 2024 made 30 starts the year prior, and while a healthy Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes are expected to outperform their numbers from 2023, it’s unclear how much of an improvement will be seen. If it’s not substantial, the Yankees will be without the supplementary arms around the aforementioned 2023 AL Cy Young winner to make it through the full season.

A strong bullpen could help the team sustain any early-season woes, especially with how many depth arms they have in their farm system who could develop into starting options for the team. Furthermore, the trade deadline could present enticing upgrades.

While neither Shane Bieber nor Corbin Burnes are likely to be dealt right now, if the Brewers or the Guardians were to skid into the All-Star Break, the Yankees could swoop in and make a deadline splash.

Hector Neris would be a nice cherry on top of what’s been an active winter for the Yankees, as they set their sights on Spring Training in hopes of winning their 28th World Series title.

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