Miami Marlins set to hire their new head of baseball operations

The Miami Marlins are hiring Tampa Bay Rays general manager Peter Bendix as their new head of baseball operations to replace Kim Ng, a source confirmed to the Miami Herald.

The Athletic first reported the news, which the Marlins have not confirmed, Sunday evening.

Bendix, 38, has been with the Rays since 2009 when he started as an intern. He worked his way up to general manager ahead of the 2022 season and has served as the No. 2 in Tampa Bay’s baseball operations department the past two seasons under Erik Neander, who previously held the GM job before being promoted to president of baseball operations.

Bendix has worked in various roles for Tampa Bay’s baseball operations prior to becoming general manager, including six seasons leading the Rays’ baseball development department and serving as vice president of baseball development from 2020-21. His other titles, according to his Rays bio, have included assistant to baseball operations, coordinator of baseball research and development, and director of baseball development.

Once the hire is official, it will end a nearly month-long search to replace Ng, who was the Marlins’ general manager for the past three seasons.

Ng, who declined her side of a mutual option to stay for the 2024 season, said at the time of her departure on Oct. 16 that Marlins principal owner and chairman Bruce Sherman had a plan to “reshape the Baseball Operations department” — which ultimately boiled down to hiring a president of baseball operations above her — and said “it became apparent that we were not completely aligned on what that should look like.”

The decision came after the Marlins made the playoffs in 2023 for the first time in a full campaign (excluding the pandemic-shortened 2020 season) since winning the World Series in 2003. Miami was swept in the best-of-3 wild card round by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Marlins overall went 220-266 in her three seasons at the helm, but went 84-78 last season after two sub-70-win seasons to begin her tenure.

Marlins decline options for Barnes, Cueto

The Marlins on Sunday declined club options for right-handed pitchers Matt Barnes and Johnny Cueto. Barnes and Cueto will now become free agents.

These decisions come after first baseman Josh Bell on Saturday exercised his $16.5 million player option for the 2024 season to stay with Miami and outfielder/designated hitter Jorge Soler on Thursday opted out of his deal, which would have paid him $13 million to stay in Miami.

Barnes and Cueto were both acquired ahead of the 2023 season — Barnes via trade, Cueto as a free agent — and neither lived up to expectations.

Barnes, who will be paid a $2.25 million buyout instead of $8 million for the 2024 season, came to Miami via a trade with the Boston Red Sox to be a high-leverage righty out of the bullpen. He appeared in just 24 games, pitching to a 5.48 ERA with a 1.64 walks and hits per inning pitched rate before undergoing season-ending hip surgery in July.

Miami’s current crop of right-handed relief pitchers includes JT Chargois, George Soriano and Anthony Bender, the latter of whom missed the 2023 season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

As for Cueto, Miami signed him to a $6 million deal with a $10.5 million option or $2.5 million buyout for the 2024 season with the hope he would be able to eat innings and be a veteran presence for a talented-yet-young Marlins rotation.

Cueto wound up pitching just one inning in the first half of the season before being sidelined by a biceps injury in his season debut — and then rolling his ankle during his first attempt at a rehab assignment. He alternated between the rotation and the bullpen during the second half but struggled overall, pitching to a 6.02 ERA over 52 1/3 innings in 13 appearances (10 starts).

Miami’s rotation will be tested in 2024. Sandy Alcantara, the team’s ace and 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner, will not pitch next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Miami’s rotation as the roster currently stands looks as if it will include five of the following six: Lefties Jesus Luzardo, Braxton Garrett, Trevor Rogers and Ryan Weathers along with righties Eury Perez and Edward Cabrera. Max Meyer, Miami’s first-round pick in 2020, could also factor into the competition after missing last season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

It’s worth noting that Cabrera is out of minor-league options.

Another pitcher to watch that Miami will have to make a decision on before the season: Sixto Sanchez, who has been sidelined by injuries each of the past three years and is also out of minor-league options.