The Marlins and Guardians have announced a trade that will send catcher Christian Bethancourt to Miami in exchange for cash considerations. Daniel Alvarez-Montes of El Extrabase was the first to report Bethancourt going to the Marlins, while the Miami Herald’s Craig Mish reported the cash return to Cleveland (both links to X).
The trade adds context to the Guardians’ $one-year, $4MM deal with Austin Hedges from earlier today. The signing initially seemed curious given how Bethancourt and Bo Naylor were already lined up as Cleveland’s catching corps, but obviously the Guards were planning two moves at once in both signing Hedges and then flipping Bethancourt to the catcher-needy Marlins.
Bethancourt is a veteran of seven MLB seasons, though none in 2018-21 as he played in the minor leagues and spent a season playing in South Korea. Returning to the big leagues with the A’s in 2022, Bethancourt was then dealt to Tampa Bay in July 2022, and the catcher ended up hitting .235/.257/.399 over 483 PA with the Rays over the last two seasons. With his numbers falling off at the plate in 2023, the Rays outrighted Bethancourt off their 40-man roster at the start of November, and the Guardians claimed him off waivers two days later.
Almost at that exact same time, Peter Bendix was in final talks with the Marlins to leave the Rays’ GM job and become Miami’s new president of baseball operations. As such, Bethancourt has become one of several ex-Tampa players that Bendix has already added to Miami’s roster during his brief time in charge of the front office.
While Bethancourt had exactly a league-average 100 wRC+ (from a .252/.283/.409 slash line and 11 homers in 333 PA) in 2022, it is safe to assume he probably won’t be viewed as a true starting catcher for the Marlins. Bethancourt and Nick Fortes at least provide the Fish with a slight upgrade on paper from last year’s catching tandem of Fortes and the non-tendered Jacob Stallings, as Bethancourt’s strong throwing arm can pair with Fortes’ glove for a defense-first approach. Bendix will probably keep an eye out for any more possible upgrades, as Fortes can still be optioned to the minors.
Bethancourt was projected to earn $2.3MM in arbitration salary this winter, so the Rays’ outright essentially served as an early non-tender for the team. This is Betancourt’s second of three arb-eligible years, so the Marlins have control on his services through the 2025 season.