Longtime Phillie Hector Neris joins Astros in free agency

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After eight seasons in the Phillies’ bullpen, late-inning fixture Heris Neris has finally moved on, joining the Astros on a two-year, $17-million deal, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The 32-year-old had been the Phillies’ longest-tenured player, debuting in 2014 after signing four years earlier as an international free agent. A 6’2” right-hander from the Dominican Republic, Neris ranks seventh in Phillies franchise history in games pitched (405) and eighth in saves (84). The meltdown-prone Neris lost his closer’s job midway through 2021 (only Giovanny Gallegos, Daniel Bard, Brent Suter and Brad Hand blew more saves than Neris’ seven last season), but rallied with a dominant second half, holding opponents to an anemic .175 average after the All-Star break with 57 strikeouts in 143 at-bats.

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Though Neris could be erratic at times (as both his home run and walk rates would suggest), his Phillies tenure was largely successful, resulting in 520 strikeouts (11.48 K/9), 55 holds and a respectable 3.42 ERA over 407 2/3 innings. The veteran joins a deep Astros pen led by lights-out closer Ryan Pressly. Neris, who figures to occupy a setup role in Houston, has yet to reach the playoffs in his big-league career. Meanwhile, the Astros have represented the American League in three of the past five World Series including this fall, when they fell to Atlanta in six games.

Along with losing Neris, the Phillies also came up empty in their pursuit of All-Star outfielder Starling Marte, who the Mets roped in on a four-year, $78-million pact late Friday night. Assuming the lockout is resolved by then, the Phillies will see Neris when they open the regular season March 31st at Houston.

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