Even as the Phillies pursue mega free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper - they are in talks with Machado and will visit with Harper in Las Vegas on Saturday - they are conducting routine baseball business. At this time of the year, that means settling potential salary arbitration cases for the coming season.
One of those cases was settled Thursday when reliever Hector Neris and the team agreed on a contract worth $1.8 million for 2019. Neris had been eligible for salary arbitration for the first time after making $582,500 last season.
Neris' signing leaves eight Phillies still eligible for salary arbitration. Friday night marks the deadline for the two sides to exchange potential salary figures for the coming season. If an agreement between the player and the team cannot be struck, an arbitration panel will decide the player's salary during a hearing in February. The two sides can strike an agreement at any time before the panel's decision - and often do.
The Phillies' remaining arbitration-eligible players are pitchers Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan, infielders Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco and outfielder Aaron Altherr.
The website MLBtraderumors.com projects the following salaries for the above players: Nola $6.6 million, Eickhoff $1.7 million, Velasquez $2.6 million, Alvarez $1.7 million, Morgan $1.1 million, Altherr $1.6 million, Hernandez $8.9 million and Franco $5.1 million. Neris had been projected to make $2 million.
Neris, 29, has been a mainstay at the back end of the Phillies' bullpen for three seasons. He pitched well in 2016 and 2017 but stumbled in 2018. He spent time in the minors, but dazzled when he returned. He was named National League reliever of the month in August and struck out 35 of the 69 batters he faced over the final six weeks of the season.
Entering 2019, Neris is expected to be one of the pitchers that manager Gabe Kapler uses late in games, along with Seranthony Dominguez, David Robertson and others.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.