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Red Sox trade: Boston sends former All-Star Matt Barnes to Marlins for lefty reliever

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The Boston Red Sox and the Miami Marlins have agreed to a trade that will see them swap veteran relievers, the teams announced Monday. The Red Sox will acquire left-hander Richard Bleier while the Marlins net Matt Barnes, a former All-Star closer who was recently designated for assignment. Miami will also receive cash considerations to offset Barnes’ greater salary.

Bleier, 36 come April, had spent parts of three seasons with the Marlins, accumulating a 3.16 ERA (133 ERA+) and a 4.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 142 appearances. He doesn’t throw particularly hard (his hardest pitch clocked in at 89.8 mph on average last season), yet his combination of sinkers and cutters and sliders has made him an effective left-on-left option. Indeed, he’s held lefties to a .573 OPS for his career, as opposed to a .793 mark against righties.

Bleier should provide manager Alex Cora with a second lefty option. Free-agent addition Joely Rodríguez had been the last southpaw standing in Boston’s projected bullpen following last week’s trade that sent Josh Taylor to the Kansas City Royals for infielder Adalberto Mondesi

Bleier will make $3.5 million in 2023. The Red Sox will then hold a club option on his services for 2024 worth $3.75 million with a $250,000 buyout.

Barnes, 32, made the All-Star Game in 2021. He wasn’t quite as successful last season, amassing a 4.31 ERA (98 ERA+) and a 1.62 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39 innings. For his career, he’s sporting a 112 ERA+ across 429 appearances.

Barnes certainly offers more raw stuff than Bleier does. His fastball averaged 95 mph last season, and he generated whiffs on nearly a third of the swings taken against his curveball. Barnes has always battled his command, however, and he’s walked at least a batter every other inning in four of the last five years. The Marlins are banking on their ability to help him harness his stuff.

Barnes is owed $7.5 million in 2023. The Marlins will then choose between paying him $8 million in 2024 or buying out a club option for $2.25 million.

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