Richard Bleier found success with the rebuilding Orioles, meaning it was almost inevitable he’d be heading to another club.
Bleier was traded July 31 to the Miami Marlins for a player to be named later. Orioles general manager Mike Elias is confident the club will eventually land another player with the potential to make an impact when the team is ready to compete for the playoffs.
Eighteen Marlins players recently tested positive for the coronavirus, so Miami has been active in filling out its roster in preparation for its restart against the Orioles Aug. 4.
“We talk to all the clubs on a constant basis as much as we can, and the Marlins had been a team that had expressed interest in Richard Bleier at times, even before the season started and then in the earlier portion of summer camp,” Elias said. “So before their most recent crisis began they had interest in Richard.
“He’s somebody who has occupied a very prominent place, I think, in the recent history of this team. He’s been part of some good runs here and he’s been a leader in the bullpen and he’s pitched through injury at times. He’s an Oriole, and so it’s tough seeing him leave, but it’s part of the process and the transition that this club is going through.
Bleier was acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for future considerations in February 2017. He went 8-1 with a 3.15 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 25 walks during 143 games in Baltimore.
Bleier battled some injuries over the past two seasons, but he was effective this year in allowing just one hit with four strikeouts in three innings, which made him a valuable trade chip.
His departure leaves a void for manager Brandon Hyde, who now has only two other left-handers in the bullpen — Paul Fry and Tanner Scott.
“He’s a guy in the bullpen with a really inexperienced group that sometimes has had trouble with command. [He] was one guy we could rely on to come in and throw strikes and usually gets ground balls,” Hyde said. “So he was somebody that I could rely on from that standpoint. And now it’s just up to other guys. And I like the arms that we have down there.”
Bleier could be just the first of several players the Orioles trade this season. Other notable players who could interest other teams include starters Alex Cobb, Wade LeBlanc or Tommy Milone, infielder Hanser Alberto, and/or reliever Mychal Givens.
“With our position right now as a rebuilding team, we’re listening to everything, and particularly with a veteran reliever like that, there’s interest from other clubs and times and we explore it,” Elias said.
Ironically, the Orioles (5-3) have been one of the MLB’s most successful teams in the early part of this abbreviated season and are in second place in the AL East behind the Yankees (8-1). Elias is not discounting that success.
“We’re off to a good start,” Elias said. “It’s good energy. We’ve got good young players on the team that are perhaps having breakout years. We’ll see. And we want to keep this rolling.”
Nonetheless, the Orioles are staying with their rebuilding plan, and now another young arm will have an opportunity to shine in Bleier’s role.
It’s all part of the plan.
“Now almost as importantly, it opens up a roster spot both 40-man and on the active roster for some younger guys to get an opportunity, and that’s a big part of this too,” Elias said.
The Orioles have a clearer picture of their upcoming schedule after their July 27-30 series against Miami was postponed because of the Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak.
The Orioles and Marlins are now expected to open a four-game series at 7:35 p.m. Aug. 4 at Camden Yards with the Orioles serving as the home team for the first two games. Tropical Storm Isaias could alter that, but the storm is set to move out of the area by the afternoon of Aug. 4.
On Aug. 5, the Orioles and Marlins are scheduled to play a doubleheader with each game consisting of seven innings beginning at 5:05 p.m. The second game will begin approximately 30 minutes after the first game concludes. The Orioles will serve as the home team for Game 1, while the Marlins will serve as the home team for Game 2.
The Orioles and Miami will meet in the series finale at 7:35 p.m. Aug. 6 with the Marlins serving as the home team.
The four-game series was originally scheduled from July 27-28 in Miami and July 29-30 in Baltimore but was postponed due to COVID-19.
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