Yankees favored to sign bullpen arm coming off elite season

mlb: alcs-texas rangers at houston astros, yankees, hector neris
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After signing Marcus Stroman to a two-year, $37 million deal, the Yankees are more likely to look to the bullpen market to help support their relief pitching. The team regularly puts together one of the best bullpens in the game, but they have a chance to land an quality arm with proven experience in a World Series and pitching in high-leverage moments.

Anytime the Yankees have a chance to steal a quality player from the Houston Astros, they shouldn’t hesitate. This time around, it is 34-year-old right-handed pitcher Hector Neris, for whom Mark Feinsand said the Yankees may be “potential front runners.”

As stated, Neris has tremendous experience in big moments, having spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies and the last two years with the Astros.

In 2023, he enjoyed a 1.71 ERA, including 10.14 strikeouts per nine, a 90.5% left-on-base rate, and a 31.8% ground ball rate across 68.1 innings. He’s had a few inconsistent seasons in the past, but coming off his best year as a professional, the Yankees are undoubtedly interested in his services.

What Would the Yankees Get From Hector Neris?

Neris ranked in the 90th percentile in hard-hit rate and 91st percentile in average exit velocity allowed. Not to mention his 90th-percentile pitching run value and 93rd-percentile fastball run value (2023).

He utilizes a four-seam fastball, split-finger fastball, and sinker combination. This past campaign, his four-seamer became his primary pitch, significantly reducing his sinker. His four-seam generated a .153 batting average with a 29.1% whiff rate and a 21.5% put-away rate.

Combined with his split-finger, he was elite, producing phenomenal movement on his pitches. His four-seam fastball averaged 93 mph but 19% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher. His split-finger, which creates deception between his four-seam fastball, produced 9% more vertical movement than the average pitcher with 40.3 inches of drop. Playing off those two pitches, he was able to cause opposing batters to guess which direction the pitch was going, whether it be horizontal or a nasty vertical drop.

The Yankees may want to add a bit more diversity to their bullpen, notably a lefty arm, but Neris is coming off a great year and would certainly help. He is a bit older, so the Yankees likely wouldn’t have to give up a significant amount of money, but given he declined his $8.5 million player option for 2024, he’s expecting to get a bit more on the open market, so it will be interested to see what his price point turns out to be.

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