The Rays announced Thursday that they’ve promoted vice president of baseball development Peter Bendix to the title of general manager. President of baseball operations Erik Neander is still the team’s top-ranking baseball operations executive, but Bendix’s appointment as GM solidifies him as the No. 2 name on the Rays’ hierarchy.
Tampa Bay also named a trio of new vice presidents of baseball operations: Carlos Rodriguez (formerly VP of player development and international operations), Will Cousins (formerly director of baseball R&D), and Chanda Lawdermilk (formerly director of staff development and recruitment). Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has more on these promotions as well as a host of other promotions on the business side of the organization.
Bendix’s promotion comes just over three months since the team promoted Neander from general manager to president of baseball operations and signed him to a five-year contract extension. With Neander now holding that title and Bendix cemented as the new GM, the Rays have adopted the president/GM hierarchy that continues to be popularized throughout the sport.
Bendix’s promotion to GM notably makes it more difficult for other clubs to lure him away; teams typically only allow executives to interview with other organizations if the position in question would represent a promotion. As such, the only way a rival club could try to pry Bendix from the Rays now would likely be to offer him the top spot on its own baseball hierarchy. (He was reportedly of interest to the Mets as they searched for a new baseball operations leader but remained with Tampa Bay.)
The Rays’ front office and coaching staff are routinely picked over every offseason, as rival clubs continue to be impressed by Tampa Bay’s success in the face of lower revenues and aggressive payroll restrictions from ownership. In the past few years alone, we’ve seen the Red Sox hire Chaim Bloom as chief baseball officer, the Astros hire James Click as GM, the Brewers hire Matt Arnold as assistant GM (later promoted to GM) and the Twins hire Josh Kalk as a senior analyst (later promoted to VP of baseball operations, strategy and innovation). Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, of course, also ran baseball ops for the Rays before being hired away by L.A. in 2014.
As general manager, Bendix will now carry have an “increased emphasis on major-league operations, such as player evaluation and procurement, roster management and the day-to-day functions of the major league club,” per the Rays. He joined the organization as an intern in 2009, working his way up to director of baseball development in 2015 and then vice president of baseball development in 2019.
Tampa Bay also announced that former big league infielder Cole Figueroa, who’d been their assistant director of hitting development, has been promoted to director of baseball operations — a notable progression in his post-playing journey. Figueroa had brief stints with the Rays, Yankees and Pirates from 2014-16, appearing in a total of 48 Major League games in addition to a nine-year minor league career.