Did Jim Crane screw up Hector Neris' market after Rafael Montero contract?

Hector Neris seems to have some pretty lofty contract demands this offseason.
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

When Hector Neris opted out of his deal with the Houston Astros at the beginning of the offseason, no one could blame him. While he was leaving a guaranteed $8.5 million on the table, his performance last season put him in line for a significant raise on a multi-year deal. It certainly had to stink for the Astros, but baseball is a business and players should look out for their own interests -- especially when it comes to that kind of money.

However, it sounds like Neris' expectations for his next contract are...a bit ambitious. Despite the fact that he isn't a closer and is down the list a bit of the best available free agent relievers, a report from MLB insider Hector Gomez indicated that Neris is looking for a three year, $50 million deal this offseason.

The Astros may be to blame for Hector Neris' outrageous contract demands

Credit to Neris and his team for shooting their shot. It takes a lot of confidence for a 35-year-old non-closing reliever to ask for an AAV on par with Edwin Diaz's record-breaking contract for a reliever with the Mets. There is almost zero chance he gets anywhere close to that, but a man can dream. The sheer inanity of the situation is a good reason to take the news with a significant dash of cold water.

One of the possible reasons that Neris might think he could get that much is very much the Astros' fault. When Houston inked Rafael Montero to a three year, $34.5 million deal before the 2023 season, they did so despite the fact that only two of his eight seasons in the league had been any good. Famously, that deal has aged like milk left out on a summer's day and the Astros probably regret giving it to him.

More importantly, these are the sorts of deals that can really mess up a market. From Neris' point of view, he has been a better and more consistent pitcher than Montero. Why shouldn't he ask for a lot more money than him, given the precedent that deal set? He may not get the kind of money he wants, but his demands haven't kept teams like the Yankees from taking a closer look at him.

Neris is likely to find out that teams aren't going to treat Montero's deal as one that set the market, but an outlier and a mistake. Unfortunately for the Astros, it is a mistake they are going to have to own for a while and Neris is still going to get a nice payday before it is all said and done.

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