CLEARWATER, Fla. — Call off the trial.
Hector Neris and the Phillies settled their arbitration case without going into a hearing Friday in Phoenix. The closer will make $4.6 million this year, according to an industry source, and also receive a $7 million team option for 2021, which would have been his final year of arbitration eligibility. He had asked for $5.2 million in arbitration and the Phillies had offered $4.25 million.
Neris, 30, posted a 2.93 ERA and went 28-for-34 in save opportunities last season. He has a 3.29 ERA in 307 career appearances, all for the Phillies.
Between Neris’ settlement and the Phillies’ $10 million arbitration victory over catcher J.T. Realmuto earlier this week, the payroll stands at approximately $201.6 million, as calculated for luxury-tax purposes. It could inch closer to the $208 million threshold if any nonroster invitees (veteran infielders Neil Walker and Logan Forsythe, for instance) win a spring-training competition for spots on the opening-day roster.
If the Phillies are able to achieve their stated goal of locking up Realmuto to a contract extension, the new deal wouldn’t take effect until next season and therefore wouldn’t impact the team’s luxury-tax number until then.
The Phillies figure to have about $6 million of maneuverability under the $208 million mark to make in-season moves without being taxed, although managing partner John Middleton has stated a willingness to pay the tax as long as the team is in contention for a division title.
Neris is expected to anchor the eight-man bullpen again this season. If healthy, right-handers Seranthony Dominguez, Tommy Hunter, and Victor Arano, and lefties Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan figure to occupy spots, while the loser of the fifth-starter competition between Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez could wind up in the bullpen, too.
That would leave one spot available for a field that includes candidates from the 40-man roster (Edgar Garcia, Robert Stock, Deolis Guerra) and a cast of nonroster veterans (Francisco Liriano, Bud Norris, Blake Parker, Drew Storen, Anthony Swarzak).
“I will fully acknowledge it’s tough to sit here today at the beginning of spring training and project exactly who the eight guys will be in our opening-day bullpen,” general manager Matt Klentak said last week, “much less what it will be like on June 1 or September 1.”
Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery will be among the regulars who will make the 57-mile trip to Lakeland, Fla., for Saturday’s spring-training opener against the Detroit Tigers. Manager Joe Girardi said Kingery will play second base. Top prospect Alec Bohm is slated to play third. ... Pivetta will start against the Tigers. Left-hander Cole Irvin, another candidate for the No. 5 starter spot, also is scheduled to pitch. ... Aaron Nola will start Sunday in the Phillies’ spring home opener at Spectrum Field. ... The games Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday will be televised by NBC Sports Philadelphia.