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The Marlins Surrendered In Record Time

Luis Arraez #4 of the San Diego Padres reacts after hitting an RBI single against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning at Chase Field on May 04, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Being a general manager can be very hard work—sitting next to the owner game after game and pretending to like the shrimp platter when your ace is taken out in the second inning, nodding at the sage observations of the owner's other company's top sales manager, miming phone calls to other general managers while icing your elbow because of all the other phone calls you're miming in the course of day, walking through the clubhouse working on furrowing your brow like a modern-day Branch Rickey. It can be exhausting.

But of all the tasks, knowing when to give up on a season may be the most difficult, because most of the time you have to wait until the last week in July before throwing all your players on the front lawn like frat house couches drenched in SpotShot from all the stains. It's hard to think outside the box when your box has collapsed.

But Miami's Peter Bendix needed only 174 days to come up with the answer: it's May 5. Why wait until the trade deadline to declare yourselves dead?

In trading a two-time batting champion Luis Arráez and covering most of his salary to San Diego for four minor-leaguers in early May, Bendix becomes the early leader for Bizarro World Executive of the Year. He made the big deal to move his most (only?) marketable player, sent him to a team with unachieved but big money aspirations, stashed the minor-leaguers, and took two silver dollars out of the money he got back and slap them on your eyes to show the owner how his investment is doing. Except that as we said, the Marlins sent the money to San Diego as part of the deal rather than the other way around. That's not just giving up, it's self-looting.

And it's not hard to see the superficial logic in Bendix's thinking. Announcing your season is over before you hit the quarter pole in your first season is pretty bold public relations, true, but what makes it even more strident is that Bendix has had his job for less than six months, and that he got the job because his boss, Marlins owner Bruce Sherman, didn't think that Kim Ng was up to the onerous task of capitulating before Cinco de Mayo.

And let's be frank here, Bendix was brought in with half an eye toward blowing up the roster anyway, and the team's horrendous start only cemented that view. That the trade happened while the Marlins were in Oakland creates a brain-only scenario in which he tells Sherman, You know, I think we could do what the A's are doing, we just have to be willing to field a Triple-A team, destroy our fan base and try to move to a town that doesn't want us.

It should be noted that the Marlins have barely half as many wins as the A's do, and a year ago the Marlins had nearly twice as many wins as the A's did. Clearly this is not progress in the traditional sense. But Bendix played the percentages—the 62 teams that started 10-26 in a full season ended up with the equivalent record of 58-94. There's no saving this, in other words, and the only thing left for Bendix was to acknowledge that it is Sherman's money rather than his own and start the salary gutting now. There is still Josh Bell, Tanner Scott, Tim Anderson, Jazz Chisholm, Avisail Garcia and Jesus Luzardo to move if the payroll, currently 26th, can be put more in line with the results to date. In other words, Bendix is being tasked with turning a $96 million payroll to a $48 million payroll before his first trade deadline—to spend $20 million less than the A's in a year in which the A's are tanking on an entire town.

And Bendix seems more than up to the task, although it must be noted that opening the garage door and sticking up a sign that says, "Everything Must Go, We Hate Baseball, Grab Whatever You Can Carry, No Offer Too Insulting" isn't exactly the way up-and-coming baseball geniuses make their reps. Unless the rep you're after is speed surrendering.

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