There were seemingly plenty of red flags surrounding the Miami Marlins’ opening for a head of baseball operations.
Hall of Famer Derek Jeter resigned his position as chief executive officer last year, reportedly unhappy with the direction owner Bruce Sherman was taking the franchise.
Yet the Marlins qualified for the postseason this year under general manager Kim Ng, the first time they had gone to the playoffs in a full season since 2003. They also reached the postseason in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Ng, the first female to ever lead the baseball operations of an MLB team, was widely praised throughout the industry for her work and seemed to be in line for a contract extension.
Instead, Ng was informed by Sherman at the end of the season that he wanted to hire a president of baseball operations who would oversee her. Ng declined her part of a mutual contract option for 2024 in October and left the organization.
Thus, a sense has grown within the industry that Sherman is difficult to work for. However, that did not deter Peter Bendix.
Earlier this month, Bendix left the Tampa Bay Rays after working for 15 seasons in their front office to become the Marlins’ president of baseball ops. Bendix said it was not long into the interview process when he realized his vision for running a baseball team matched that of Sherman.
“I have a lot of confidence in Bruce,” Bendix said. “I have a lot of confidence in the leadership that is already in place. I’m confident that our visions are aligned, that what I told them what I’d like to build, and my leadership style are along the lines of what they like, too. That’s really all you can ask for.”
Bendix was so happy with the Rays that he was hopeful of spending his whole career with the organization. He started as an intern in the front office in 2009 and rose to GM in 2022 and second on the Rays’ administrative flow chart after president of baseball operations Erik Neander.
“I had a phenomenal situation with the Rays, been there for 15 years, had a lot of success, worked with phenomenal people,” Bendix said. “The concept of not working there anymore, it needed to be the exact right situation with the right people in place, frankly, with the right owner.”
Bendix feels the Marlins present that exact right situation.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. “It’s a dream come true. It’s surreal and I still kind of pinch myself because it doesn’t feel real but it’s a really exciting opportunity with a great organization.”
It doesn’t hurt that the Marlins are coming off a playoff appearance, albeit being swept by the Philadelphia Phillies in a best-of-three National League Division Series. The Marlins had an 84-78 record in the regular season, though there was a bit of a flukish feel to it because Miami had a minus-57 run differential.
The Marlins will also be without ace pitcher Sandy Alcantara next season while he recovers from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. Alcantara was the NL Cy Young Award winner in 2022.
Yet even without Alcantara, the Marlins have the makings of a potentially outstanding young starting rotation that could include left-handers Jesus Luzardo, Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers and right-handers Eury Perez and Edward Cabrera. None are older than 26.
Bendix might wind up trading one of those pitchers this winter to bolster an offense that was 26th in the major leagues in 2023 with an average of 4.11 runs a game.
The Marlins also have NL Manager of the Year Skip Schumaker, who won the award in his first season as a skipper.
“There’s a lot of talent in the organization and I’m learning as much as I can and as quickly as I can about the players,” Bendix said. “We won 84 games, made the playoffs, and have a lot of dynamic players and a lot of really good arms. I think we’re in a good spot and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.”