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Marlins extend Richard Bleier through 2023

The new contract pushes back Bleier’s free agency in exchange for a $6 million guarantee.

Richard Bleier #35 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the fifth inning against the San Diego Padres at loanDepot park Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Miguel Rojas, Sandy Alcantara and...Richard Bleier? Those are the three productive veterans who have received contract extensions from the Marlins since the end of the 2021 season. Bleier is predictably the smallest of the bunch, agreeing to a guarantee of $6 million over the next two years, according to Daniel Álvarez of El Extrabase. Craig Mish of SportsGrid provides the detailed financial breakdown:

Bleier’s upcoming age-35 season was poised to be his final year of arbitration eligibility. MLB Trade Rumors had projected him for a club-friendly $2.5 million salary. So the Marlins achieved modest short-term savings while giving him the opportunity to max out at $9.5 million over the next three years if his 2024 option is picked up.

In 2021, the South Florida native overcame a rocky start to the season—four home runs allowed in April—to be a great setup man. He established new career-highs in appearances, strikeout rate and FanGraphs wins above replacement. Historically vulnerable to right-handed batters (particularly in 2020), the soft-tossing lefty bucked that trend by using his cutter more frequently as a putaway pitch.

Bleier has always had good control, but it was otherworldly in ‘21. He located 74.2% of his pitches for strikes and did not issue his first walk until June 8 (his 27th appearance).

Bleier also starred in one of my favorite GIFs of the year when he flipped off an umpire (and subsequently got ejected).

Fish Stripes original GIF

Bleier ($3.5M) will join Jorge Soler ($15M), Avisaíl García ($12M), Alcantara ($6.3M) and Rojas ($5M) as the only Marlins players with fully guaranteed salaries for 2023. Soler can opt out of his deal next winter if he feels he can do better on the open market. Anthony Bass has a $3M club option for that year, which comes with a $1M buyout.

A ground-ball specialist, Bleier overcame the occasionally shaky Marlins infield defense to find success in 2021. With the addition of Joey Wendle, sophomore growth from Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Al Pedrique taking over as the team’s infield instructor, his job should be easier this season.

Richard Bleier’s MLB career stats
Richard Bleier’s MLB career stats
Baseball-Reference

Don’t be shocked if the Marlins finalize extensions with some of their other players in the coming hours. Tuesday is the deadline for teams to exchange salary figures with their arb-eligibles in order to avoid going to a hearing.