Bleier signs 2-year extension; other arbitration updates

March 23rd, 2022

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Marlins signed Richard Bleier to a two-year, $6 million extension on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration with the left-handed reliever. The deal also includes a $3.75 million club option for 2024.

Bleier will earn $2.25 million this season and $3.5 million in 2023 as part of the deal, which covers his final year of arbitration and at least one free agent year. It also includes a $250,000 buyout.

"First and foremost, he's a very good pitcher," general manager Kim Ng said. "I think the impetus was for us to give him a multiyear deal, and we just look for those types of guys who are great at their craft, at what they do, great performers. He has performed under pressure, and given what we've seen in the market, it made all the sense in the world to do that deal."

The contract brings cost certainty to the Marlins’ bullpen and a long-awaited payday for the 35-year-old Bleier, who spent parts of nine seasons in the Minors before emerging as a reliable situational reliever for the Orioles in 2017. Acquired from Baltimore via trade in 2020, Bleier pitched to a 2.89 ERA in 87 appearances for Miami over the past two seasons. He owns a lifetime 2.96 ERA across six seasons for the Marlins, O’s and Yankees.

“It's a rewarding experience, especially in my situation,” Bleier said. “Not too many guys sign their first full-year free-agent deal at age 35. So it's been quite a journey.”

Historically more effective against left-handed hitters, Bleier’s ability to also keep righties in check makes him manager Don Mattingly’s primary left-handed option in a Miami ‘pen that's returning closer Dylan Floro and set-up righties Anthony Bass and Anthony Bender. The Marlins added right-hander Louis Head this offseason, and the roster also features southpaws Steve Okert and Sean Guenther, giving Mattingly plenty of leeway to mix and match in the middle innings. Additionally, the club added veteran left-hander Grant Dayton this week on a Minor League deal.

Pairing his sinker-slider repertoire with elite control, Bleier led qualified National League relievers in ground-ball rate in 2021. Since arriving in Miami, only three relievers across baseball have been more successful than Bleier at keeping the ball on the ground -- Aaron Bummer, Clay Holmes and Emmanuel Clase.

“Richard knows who he is and what he does,” Mattingly said. “He knows he's a ground-ball guy. In today's game, you talk about punchouts and strikeouts at the top of the zone. He’s not a guy trying to pitch at the top of the zone. He tries to do what he does. He knows who he is. We try to match him up accordingly. We try to give him as many lefties as we can. He's been tough on them. So he just knows who he is, and he's been consistent in everything.”

Marlins avoid arbitration with five
Additionally, the Marlins reached agreements with five arb-eligible players Tuesday, the day for clubs and unsigned players to exchange figures. The club agreed with Brian Anderson ($4.475 million, per SportsGrid's Craig Mish), infielder Garrett Cooper ($2.5 million, per Mish), right-hander Elieser Hernandez ($1.325 million, per Mish), righty Dylan Floro and infielder Jon Berti. The club confirmed the deals, but not any corresponding figures.

The Marlins entered the offseason with 10 arbitration-eligible players. Bleier’s extension and the five aforementioned agreements leaves contracts for righty Pablo López, 1B/DH Jesús Aguilar, catcher Jacob Stallings and infielder Joey Wendle to resolve. Players who cannot strike deals will have their 2022 salary determined by an independent arbiter, in hearings that this year will take place in-season.

From the trainer’s room
The Marlins received good news on the injury that forced Jazz Chisholm Jr. from Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium, after testing revealed no lasting damage to his right hand. Chisholm suffered a contusion after bobbling a well-struck (107.3 mph exit velocity, per Statcast) grounder from Paul DeJong in the fourth inning; Chisholm is considered day to day.