Roster Move: Cubs sign deal with Hector Neris, Michael Rucker designated for assignment
Troy Taormina - USA Today Sports

Roster Move: Cubs sign deal with Hector Neris, Michael Rucker designated for assignment

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CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Héctor Neris on a one-year major league contract with a club option for 2025. To make room for Neris on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Michael Rucker was designated for assignment. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Neris, 34, is 33-36 with a 3.24 ERA (195 ER/541.1 IP) and 89 saves in 546 career games across parts of 10 seasons with Philadelphia (2014-21) and Houston (2022-23). Since 2016, his 513 games pitched are the most in the majors, while his 634 strikeouts in that span rank third among relievers behind Edwin Díaz and Josh Hader. Since 2021, Neris is one of two major league pitchers (also Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase) to have appeared in 70-plus games in each season. He has recorded four seasons of at least 10 saves (2017-19, 2021), including 26 in 2017 and a career-high 28 in 2019.

The six-foot two-inch Neris holds Philadelphia’s franchise record in career strikeouts by a reliever (520), while ranking second in opponent’s average (.220), fourth in WHIP (1.19) and games (405), seventh in innings (407.2) and games finished (197) and eighth in saves (84). The righthander made his major league debut with the Phillies, Aug. 5, 2014 vs. Houston, earning the win in the lone major league game he appeared in that season (0 ER/1.0 IP).

In 2016, Neris made his first opening day roster and finished among the N.L. relief leaders in innings (3rd, 80.1), games (T-3rd, 79) and strikeouts (5th, 102). He became the fourth reliever in Phillies history with at least 100 strikeouts in a season and his 102 punchouts were good for the second-highest mark by a reliever in franchise history, trailing Dick Selma’s 153 in 1970. In 2017, he converted each of his final 20 save opportunities, the longest single-season streak by a Phillie since Brad Lidge (41 in 2008).

In 2022 he made his first career playoff appearance, going 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA (1 ER/6.0 IP) in seven of the team’s 13 games to help the Astros capture the World Series championship. During the Fall Classic, Neris pitched 2.0 scoreless innings with four strikeouts in three games.

In 2023, Neris went 6-3 with a 1.71 ERA (13 ER/68.1 IP) in 71 games, the lowest ERA in a single-season in his career. During the campaign, he finished among the A.L. relief leaders in holds (T-1st, 31), ERA (4th, 1.71), opponent’s average (4th, .174) and wins (T-8th, 6). He held left-handed hitters to a .163 average (16-for-98) with 32 strikeouts.

A Villa Altagracia, D.R., native, Neris originally signed with the Phillies as a non-drafted free agent April 29, 2010. He has pitched internationally for the Dominican Republic in each of the last two World Baseball Classic events (2017 and 2023), pitching to a combined 1.69 ERA (1 ER/5.1 IP) with six strikeouts in six games.

Rucker, 29, went 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA (22 ER/40.1 IP) in 35 games for the Cubs in 2023 and is 5-2 with a 4.96 ERA (68 ER/12.1 IP) in 96 career major league relief appearances since making his debut in 2021.

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