Hector Neris contract details, grade: Cubs work brilliantly to upgrade bullpen

The Cubs signed Hector Neris to a very team-friendly contract as their bullpen becomes more of a strength.

Oct 22, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris (50) reacts in the
Oct 22, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris (50) reacts in the / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The Chicago Cubs were the quietest team in all of baseball for much of the offseason. There was the shock of the Craig Counsell hire, and then months of no activity whatsoever to follow. The dam finally broke when Chicago signed Shota Imanaga and traded for Michael Busch, but the Cubs, at least on paper, look worse than they did last season when they narrowly missed out on a playoff spot.

The additions were fine and the Counsell hire was a good one, obviously, but two of Chicago's best players from last season, Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger, were free agents. Stroman signed with the Yankees, and Imanaga was brought in to be his replacement. Imanaga can be good, but that feels like a downgrade. Bellinger remains a free agent, but who knows what his deal is at this point?

The Cubs still have more work to do to get back in the NL Central race with their rivals making moves, and Jed Hoyer did make a move, inking Hector Neris to a deal.

Hector Neris contract details and grade after signing with Cubs

The terms of the deal are an absolute no-brainer. Neris signed a one-year deal worth $9 million which includes an option for 2025 according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. The club option converts to a player option if he appears in 60 games, and Neris can top out at $23.25 if all of his incentives are met. This is a brilliant deal for the Cubs.

What makes it so brilliant is the price point. Neris was reportedly seeking a three-year deal worth $50 million. That was never going to happen, but getting him to go from there to a one-year deal worth $9 million is great work by the Cubs. The club option could turn into a player option, but that'd require him actually pitching well in the first year and making it worth Chicago's while.

If Neris pitches well, he's more than likely going to appear in 60+ games barring injury. He's appeared in at least 68 games in each of the last four full seasons (excluding 2020) and has pitched in at least 70 games in each of the last three seasons.

The season he just had in 2023 was phenomenal, as the right-hander posted a 1.71 ERA in 71 appearances and 68.1 innings of work. He had a couple of hiccups in the playoffs but, for the most part, worked very well as a set-up man for Ryan Pressly. While Neris pitched mostly in the seventh and eighth innings in an Astros uniform, he does have 89 career saves thanks in large part to his time with the Phillies.

Neris joins an underrated bullpen consisting of arms like Adbert Alzolay, Julian Merryweather, and Mark Leiter Jr. and should make the Cubs a whole lot better. There's still more work to be done, but there isn't much to complain about when it comes to this signing. The Cubs bullpen just got a whole lot better for a very reasonable price.

Grade: A-

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