Wendle moves across state: 'I'm excited'
MIAMI -- Joey Wendle is no stranger to winning. As a member of the Rays over the past four seasons, he reached the playoffs three times, including the World Series in 2020.
Wendle sees a bright future for the Marlins, who continued their offseason shopping by acquiring the All-Star infielder from the Rays for outfield prospect Kameron Misner on Tuesday night.
In this offseason, Miami has signed ace Sandy Alcantara and shortstop Miguel Rojas to contract extensions, dealt for Gold Glove-winning catcher Jacob Stallings and signed middle-of-the-order bat Avisaíl García to a four-year deal. The Marlins also bolstered their bullpen by adding Louis Head in another deal with their intrastate rivals earlier this month.
Rojas called Wendle after the trade and told him the club was ready to win now. Wendle couldn't agree more.
"I'm thankful that I don't have to face that pitching staff anymore," Wendle said. "There's a lot of exciting arms from top to bottom and position players, as well. … Just looking at the pieces that are in place, I'm excited -- I really am to get to work."
Wendle, who cannot become a free agent until after the 2023 season, provides versatility with above-average defense at second base, shortstop and third base, where he was named a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award. He also has seen action in left field.
An All-Star in 2021, Wendle had a .265/.319/.422 slash line, 31 doubles, four triples and a career-high 11 homers in 136 games. His 3.8 bWAR made him the Rays’ third-most valuable player, behind only second baseman Brandon Lowe and American League Rookie of the Year Randy Arozarena.
Across six big league seasons, beginning in 2016 with the A's, the 31-year-old Wendle has a 105 OPS+ in 436 contests. It wasn't until he made the Rays out of Spring Training in '18 that he began to morph from a second baseman to utility player. Wendle is eligible for salary arbitration for the second time.
“We’ve been so fortunate to have a left-handed-hitting infielder with Joey’s versatility and defensive acumen everywhere you play him -- good luck finding that combination," Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander said.
How often Wendle will play has yet to be determined, but his addition affects third baseman Brian Anderson and utility player Jon Berti. They were tendered contract offers by Miami on Tuesday night. Anderson is coming off left shoulder surgery, while Berti never returned from a concussion he sustained on July 22. According to general manager Kim Ng, both are progressing in their rehab.
"He's played third base for the Rays for a while now," Ng said of Wendle. "I think one of the great things similarly to Avi García is that you can put him at different positions, and we can be flexible with it. So I think whenever someone needs a spell -- we dealt with a lot of injuries last year --- in terms of multi-dimensionality and flexibility, that is something that we've seen the industry go to. So I think he's a tremendous add for us.
“We've heard nothing but great things in terms of his personality in terms of his leadership skills, and really what he brought to that Tampa Bay club, so we couldn't be more excited."
To make room for Wendle on the 40-man roster, outfielder Lewis Brinson was designated for assignment. The Coral Springs High graduate was arbitration-eligible for the first time and out of Minor League options. The top prospect from the Christian Yelich trade, Brinson slashed .203/.248/.325 in 320 games across four seasons for his hometown Marlins.
Misner, who was ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 21 prospect, was selected 35th overall in the 2019 MLB Draft. In 2021, his first full professional season, the 23-year-old earned a promotion from High-A Beloit to Double-A Pensacola, where he compiled an .878 OPS in a 14-game sample. At the Arizona Fall League, the toolsy Misner went deep on seven of his 16 hits for the championship-winning Mesa Solar Sox. Fellow 2019 Draft picks JJ Bleday (No. 5) and Peyton Burdick (No. 14) ranked higher among outfielders in Miami’s system