Bleier agrees to terms (Villar traded to Marlins)

The Orioles are down to six unsigned arbitration-eligible players after agreeing to terms with reliever Richard Bleier.

It’s going to be a busy day in the warehouse.

Bleier figured to be the first domino to fall, especially with significant progress made over the weekend. Still unresolved, however, are the statuses of infielders Jonathan Villar and Hanser Alberto, infielder/outfielder Trey Mancini, starter Dylan Bundy and relievers Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro.

Bundy is a strong candidate to be traded. Villar, meanwhile, remains on outright waivers and the Orioles will learn by 1 p.m. whether he’s been claimed.

Assuming that teams pass on Villar and no trade is consummated, he’s expected to hit free agency and further flood the infield market.

Bleier-Throwing-Black-Sidebar.jpgBleier registered a career-high 5.37 ERA and 1.319 WHIP this summer in 55 1/3 innings and had the early portion of his season interrupted by a stop on the injured list with shoulder tendinitis. But he was much better in the second half, inducing a more acceptable rate of ground balls and posted a 3.68 ERA and 1.159 WHIP in 29 1/3 innings.

The new salary gives Bleier, 32, a bump from $572,500 to $915,000 in his first year of arbitration eligibility and allows the sides to avoid a hearing next spring. MLBTradeRumors.com projected that he’d earn $1.1 million in 2020.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand first reported Bleier’s salary for next season.

The 40-man roster continues to hold 39 players and should be reduced later today with Villar’s removal. However it’s done.

It must stay below 40 in order for the Orioles to make a selection in the Dec. 12 Rule 5 draft that closes out the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

The roster includes three left-handed relievers with Bleier, Paul Fry and Tanner Scott.

As you’ve read and heard, the Orioles also will keep exploring the market for Givens and seem intent on holding onto Mancini, who otherwise would be their top trade chip.

Alberto is certain to stay in the organization and the Orioles will try to reach agreement with him before the 8 p.m. deadline. The sides otherwise would have to exchange figures and negotiations would continue.

I’ll update this entry as more news breaks.

Update: The Orioles tendered contracts to Bundy, Mancini, Givens, Castro and Alberto, and traded Villar to the Marlins for left-hander Easton Lucas, 23, a 14th-round pick this year out of Pepperdine.

Lucas registered a 3.98 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 12 games (nine starts) for short-season Single-A Batavia. He walked nine batters and struck out 40 in 31 2/3 innings.

The 40-man roster holds 38 players.

So the Orioles were able to get a return on Villar rather than letting him walk for nothing. Lucas could be assigned to short-season Single-A Aberdeen or low Single-A Delmarva in 2020.

The Diamondbacks non-tendered former Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph.

I’ll pass along comments from executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias later tonight.

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