Bendix joins Marlins club with 'great foundation to build from'

November 13th, 2023

MIAMI -- Over the past decade, Major League Baseball teams have turned to the Rays' front-office pipeline in the hopes of emulating their model for sustainable winning.

The Marlins became the latest organization to do so on Monday morning, when Peter Bendix was introduced as their new president of baseball operations at loanDepot park. One week ago, the club announced that he would become the first person to hold the position in the organization since Michael Hill (2017-20) and the third in club history.

Bendix is the latest front-office alumnus of the Rays to run his own baseball ops department, following Andrew Friedman, James Click and Chaim Bloom. They have been able to replicate that winning culture to varying degrees.

"I'm not blind to Tampa's success," chairman and principal owner Bruce Sherman said. "We're not going to be the 29th payroll. I think they've averaged the 29th-highest payroll for about a decade or more, and they have the third-most wins. And that's like off the charts on any statistical analysis, and it's kind of amazing. And then you look around the front offices in baseball, and whatever secret sauce he has -- and I'm sure they're many of them, he's not about to say it publicly -- but hopefully he will bring that to this organization over multiple years."

Bendix, 38, will oversee the entire baseball operations department after serving as the senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager of the Rays since December 2021, assisting president of baseball ops Erik Neander with departmental oversight and an increased focus on Major League operations. His areas included player evaluation and procurement, roster management and the day-to-day functions of the MLB club. Bendix also oversaw Tampa Bay’s baseball systems group and worked closely with other departments to facilitate learning and development.

A Tufts University graduate, Bendix came up on the analytics side, spending two years as an intern with the Rays, beginning in January 2009, before later receiving a promotion to assistant of baseball operations, coordinator of baseball research and development and director of baseball development. Before his most recent role, Bendix spent six seasons leading the baseball development department and served as vice president of baseball development from 2020-21.

"His knowledge of our players before he got to the interview was extraordinary," Sherman said. "He knew as much about our 40-man roster as any guy, and then his history of baseball is fabulous. But more importantly than that, his ability to relate to an organization and to build people [is impressive]. He comes from an organization that doesn't hire within baseball. They hire people and teach them baseball.

"Everybody thinks Tampa's analytics -- and yes, they have a much bigger analytics department than we have, and yes, they have a much bigger front office. To me, [it] is the ability to develop players through your coaching and not through your free-agent signings, but primarily through your system of drafting at both the amateur Draft and the international [market]. He really talked about that with great depth, and player development in great depth, and how you can build a front office and how $1 should be spent. $1 in the front office might produce $5. $1 on free agents is what you may get from that one year, two years. But he's open to everything."

Tampa Bay's sustainability stems in large part from its farm system, which consistently ranks among the best in baseball. In MLB Pipeline's 2023 midseason rankings, the Rays were seventh; the Marlins were 24th. 

On Miami's National League Wild Card Series roster, there were just five homegrown players: Braxton Garrett, Andrew Nardi and Nick Fortes via the MLB Draft, and Edward Cabrera and George Soriano via international signing classes. Being a smaller-market club like the Rays, the Marlins must hit on their high Draft picks more often than they have in recent memory.

"There are so many ways that you can acquire players," Bendix said. "There’s drafting, international, trades. There’s developing the players that you have. There’s free agents -- all these different methods. Everybody needs to be aligned. Everybody needs to be pulling in the same direction. And those things start to amplify. And if you have multiple different areas and multiple different departments that are all aligned with the same goal, that all have each others' back, that make each other better, all of those different areas bring in the right players. And then the people that we have here develop them to get the best version of themselves. So when you build all of those areas together, the total is more than the sum of the parts."

While the Marlins are coming off a postseason appearance in a full season for the first time in 20 years, their intrastate rivals have reached the postseason in five straight seasons, including one World Series trip. During this span, the head-to-head matchup has been a lopsided one: Tampa Bay has won 21 of 24, including seven one-run games. It's staggering considering both teams play a brand of baseball that often lends itself to close games.

"The thing that the Rays always told themselves that I will bring here is that it's constant evaluation, and it's constantly looking to improve," Bendix said. "And you have to always be looking to innovate, to try new things, to not be afraid to fail, because we need to maximize every part of the organization that we possibly can. We need to create every edge that we can, and it does not matter how successful any team has been to this point. You always need to be constantly improving."