Hector Neris surprised no one when he opted out of his contract with the Astros

The Astros lost an important piece of their bullpen to free agency on Sunday evening.
Oct 20, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Hector Neris (50) throws during the
Oct 20, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Hector Neris (50) throws during the / Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros don't have to make any contract option decisions early in the offseason on their end, but one contract option that has gotten a lot of attention has been Hector Neris' player option for 2024. Neris' option was converted into a player option this season per the terms of his deal with the Astros and at $8.5 million, it would have been a steal for Houston if he decided to exercise it.

However, the odds were slim that that was going to happen. After putting up a career best 1.71 ERA in 2023 and emerging as one of Houston's best and most reliable bullpen arms, opting in would have meant that Neris would be leaving a lot of money on the table if he avoided free agency. As expected, it was reported last night that Hector did indeed decline his player option and is now a free agent.

Hector Neris declines player option, is now a free agent

The news is pretty brutal for the Astros as they stand to lose a critical piece of their bullpen. While he had a tough time during Houston's playoff run this year, Neris was a machine during the regular season and handled some key high leverage spots for the Astros when they were fighting for their playoff lives at the end of the season.

All is not lost, though, as Astros general manager Dana Brown has been clear that he plans to keep the lines of communication open with all of the Astros guys that are about to hit free agency. However, to bring back Neris, the Astros may need to pony up a contract that isn't dissimilar from the one that they signed Rafael Montero to before the 2023 season if not more and, well, we saw how that went. Committing that much money to any reliever comes with a lot of risk, but Houston is going to have to do something to get the bullpen ready to compete in 2024.

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