The Chicago Cubs officially announced the signing of veteran relief pitcher Hector Neris to a one-year deal on Thursday.
There was some degree of surprise that Neris signed a one-year deal with the Cubs, report earlier in the off-season had home seeking a three-year deal worth $45MM, but more details have emerged regarding his agreement with the Cubs.
Jed Hoyer does not like to be locked into multi-year commitments with relief pitchers and that would hold especially true for a relief pitcher turning 35 in-season.
It would also seem likely that the $9MM option for the 2025 season will convert to a player option. Neris has appeared in at least 70 games in each of the last three seasons. Considering new manager Craig Counsell how often he would utilize Josh Hader when the two were together with the Milwaukee Brewers, it would be a safe bet that Neris may have a similar role with the Cubs in 2024.
What will be interesting to see is the role that Neris will have in the bullpen. Counsell is excellent with his bullpen management skills and one of the reasons for that is his ability to use his high-leverage pitchers when the situation calls for it and not the inning. This means that if there are six important outs needed between the middle innings, don't be surprised if Neris is called upon.
To make room for Neris on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated Michael Rucker for assignment. Rucker was often used as the up/down reliever for the Cubs during much of the past two seasons. Rucker was a favorite of former manager David Ross during the 2022 season but struggled to find consistency last season as he posted a 4.91 ERA in 35 appearances. It would seem likely that there will be a team willing to take a flier on the right-hander.