The biggest issue with the Houston Astros' roster going into the 2024 season is the state of their bullpen. Relievers are already a volatile commodity and relying on them to be the same guys year-to-year is tough enough. Unfortunately, the Astros have the added difficulty of losing some really key bullpen arms to free agency including Hector Neris.
Neris has been a very productive reliever for years now, but his 2023 season where he posted a 1.71 ERA and 2.5 rWAR in 71 appearances was the best season of his career by far. It is no wonder then that once the 2023 season ended, Neris decided to opt out of his $8.5 million player option for next season and test out free agency in search of a bigger payday.
So far this offseason, there had been very little publicly known about Neris' market and Astros fans retained some hope that the Astros could ultimately bring him back. However, those hopes took a big hit yesterday when it was reported that both the Yankees and the Rangers are targeting the stand-out reliever.
Yankees and Rangers look like the favorites to steal Hector Neris from the Astros
As soon as Neris hit free agency, there was always a very good chance that he was going to play elsewhere in 2024 and beyond. While Houston absolutely has to add to their bullpen for next season, issues with their payroll made it where Neris' play last season may have priced him out of where Houston would feel comfortable paying him.
Why does it have to be the Yankees or Rangers, though?! The Yankees were already going to be a problem in the AL for the Astros given their addition of Juan Soto and their aggressive posture this offseason. Adding Neris to bolster their bullpen would just be more salt in the wound.
Neris going to Texas would be arguably worse as Houston's saving grace this offseason has been that their chief division rival hadn't done all that much coming off their World Series win due to their own TV revenue uncertainty. If the Rangers' front office finally wakes up and starts upgrading Texas' roster even more with a move like Neris, Houston could be in a lot of trouble in the AL West.
So far, no deal for Neris seems particularly close, but that there is chatter about him at all does seem to indicate that we could get some resolution to his free agency pretty soon.