MIAMI -- Marlins president of baseball operations Peter Bendix's first trade involved his former organization on Friday night, as he dealt two lower-level prospects -- Erick Lara and Andrew Lindsey -- and a player to be named or cash for middle infielder/outfielder Vidal Bruján and right-handed reliever Calvin Faucher.
“I'm sure there's a lot of people over there with the Rays that won a bet that the first trade would be with the Rays,” Bendix joked.
Bruján, who turns 26 in February, ranked as high as No. 4 in Tampa Bay's system in 2022 before graduating from prospect status. But he hasn't been able to figure it out at the MLB level just yet and is out of Minor League options. In parts of three seasons, the switch-hitting Bruján has slashed .157/.218/.221 with seven doubles, three homers and nine steals in 99 games.
Entering Friday, Bruján is slashing .317/.418/.405 with five doubles, one triple, 12 RBIs and 12 steals in 22 games competing for Estrellas in the Dominican Republic Winter League.
“In a lot of my experience, it often takes a year, two years, multiple times in the big leagues, before guys really figure it out,” Bendix said. “And [Bruján] has all the tools. He's performed in Triple-A, he's having a great time in the Dominican right now, is doing really well. He has everything in place to be really successful, and it happens at different paces for everybody.”
Added Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander: “A bit of a squeeze. Not the way that we thought it would turn out, once upon a time, but I think just a fresh start, fresh opportunity for Bru -- given his abilities and talent -- should be a good thing for him. Wish him the best.”
According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report, Bruján puts bat to ball often, and he is a better overall hitter from the left side. His best asset remains his plus-plus speed (70 grade). He can play above-average defense around the field.
The Marlins have an opening at shortstop, which could be a potential landing spot for Bruján if he wins the job. He also has seen action in right and center field, the latter of which Jazz Chisholm Jr. played in 2023 to make room for All-Star Luis Arraez at second base. Chisholm came up as a shortstop.
“He'll get a look there [at short], he'll get a look at every position,” Bendix said of Bruján. “I value players who can play multiple positions. We had success with that with several different players last year, too. I know that's something [manager] Skip [Schumaker] values too, and so that's a big part of Vidal's value.”
Tampa Bay designated Faucher for assignment earlier in the week. The 28-year-old has posted a 6.32 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP in 39 outings (four starts) at the Major League level. In 2023, he relied on a cutter/sweeper/sinker mix, with the latter offering averaging 95 mph. Walks were an issue (4.2 BB/9), but he recorded a 48.8 percent ground-ball rate. Faucher provides another right-handed option to Miami’s left-hander-heavy bullpen.
“He's [got] really good stuff,” Bendix said. “Great breaking balls. He has kind of bounced up and down between the big leagues and Triple-A, and he's shown flashes of being a really good big league reliever. [He] can cover multiple innings if needed. He's pitched in a lot of different roles and misses a lot of bats.”
Lara, a 17-year-old third baseman, slashed .305/.416/.445 in 34 games en route to being named the organization’s Dominican Summer League Marlins MVP. The right-handed Lindsey, 24, was selected in the fifth round of this past July's MLB Draft out of the University of Tennessee. He made two starts in the Florida Complex League to begin his professional career.
Stallings, the Marlins' Opening Day backstop the past two seasons and ace Sandy Alcantara’s personal catcher, had one remaining year of arbitration eligibility. In 2023 he made $3.35 million, splitting time behind the dish with Nick Fortes, the lone remaining catcher on the 40-man roster. Stallings, 33, slashed .210/.287/.290 with 26 doubles, seven homers and 54 RBIs in 202 games for Miami.
A non-roster invite last Spring Training, Hampson shuttled back and forth between the Majors and Minors in 2023, slashing .276/.349/.380 with 12 doubles, one triple and three homers in 98 games. The writing was on the wall for Hampson when Miami activated the 2024 club option for Jon Berti, who had one remaining year of arbitration and a similar skillset to Hampson.
MLB.com Rays reporter Adam Berry contributed to this story.