The Miami Marlins are now 2 for 2 in securing their arbitration eligible players, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the team came to terms with reliever Bryan Morris prior to Friday’s filing deadline. The sides agreed on a 2016 salary of $1.35 million, a relative bargain for the Fish considering the 2.17 ERA Morris has sported across 103.2 IP of work during his tenure in Little Havana. As noted above, this is the second signing of an arbitration eligible player in as many days, as this news follows scarcely twenty-four hours after the Dee Gordon announcement on Thursday.
The only thing surprising about this announcement was that Ken Rosenthal didn’t break the news, as he’s been rather attuned to the Marlins world of late, breaking the news of the Wei-Yen Chen and Gordon signings earlier this week. But Morris was certainly going to be retained, as he has been one of Miami’s best relievers since being acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2014 season. Morris posted an ERA of 3.14 in 2015 in his first full season with Miami, following an other-wordly mark of 0.66 in his Marlin half of 2014. And while the figure may seem ho-hum, it’s worth noting that only closer A.J. Ramos did better while pitching nearly as many innings (70.1) as Morris’ 63 IP.
Two other fun facts to keep in mind in respect to Morris. First off, a key factor that might have come to play in Morris staying was the confidence another recent addition to organization has in him: vice president of pitching development Jim Benedict. Benedict, who joined the Pirates in a similar role following the 2008 season, got the Miami job for all the fine work he did with Pirates pitchers…including Bryan Morris. In a 2010 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interview, Morris credited Benedict with helping him make some changes to his delivery. That Benedict would back a past project doesn’t seem like an unreasonable leap, and Morris did start to trend back upward from that point on, after an inauspicious start to his career.
Which leads to fun fact number two. While the fact the Marlins played a part in Morris currently being a Marlin is beyond obvious, less obvious is the fact that he might have the Marlins to thank for his ever being a Pirate as well. Drafted by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2006 draft, he was still a popular commodity in 2008 when both the Dodgers and Marlins were looking for ways to shore up their roster for a postseason run. Both clubs were targeting the same player in Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, and both clubs needed the help of the Pirates to do it, as Boston wanted Jason Bay. The Marlins seemed for awhile to be on the verge of pulling off the three-team deal, until the Pirates upped their asking price by insisting that a young 19-yr old prospect named Giancarlo Stanton (well, Mike back then) be part of the package. Miami balked, and the Dodgers stepped up to the plate; key to that deal going through was that they agree to send Morris off to the Steel City. And just a short seven years later, he’s a millionaire in the Magic one.