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Analysis

With Bendix Gone, Who Takes Over As Neander’s Top Lieutenant?

photo: Tampa Bay Rays

The Marlins made the hiring of Peter Bendix as their head of baseball operations official Monday morning, and with it brings the departure of another high-ranking member of Tampa Bay’s baseball operations department to run his own franchise.  Bendix joins Andrew Friedman, Matt Arnold, James Click, and Chaim Bloom as executives groomed by the Rays that went on to take over baseball operations in other cities.  So with him gone, who fills the void as Erik Neander’s top lieutenant starting in the 2024 season?  We’ve come up with three candidates, plus a dark horse from outside the organization, that have the background, the experience, and their own little special something that could make them the right fit.

headshot of Rays vice president and assistant general manager Carlos Rodriguez

(photo: Tampa Bay Rays)

Carlos Rodriguez

Rodriguez has been with the club since 2010, and has an extensive background in international scouting.  He joined the Rays as an international scout but quickly moved up to become the director of Latin American scouting in 2012 and became the director of all international scouting in 2015.  In 2020, he became the vice president of player development and international scouting, added baseball operations in 2022, and was given an assistant general manager title this past season.  Rodriguez was instrumental in scouting and signing many of the Rays top home-grown international talent, including Wander Franco, Rene Pinto and Jonathan Aranda, who were on this year’s club.

headshot of Rays senior advisor Jon Daniels

(photo: Tampa Bay Rays)

Jon Daniels

Daniels spent 21 years witht he Texas Rangers, including 17 as the head of the team’s baseball operations department, before joining the Rays in November of 2022 as a senior advisor, using his experience to help further inform decision making.  Daniels was in charge of the 2010 and 2011 Rangers teams that reached the World Series (and ironically defeated the Rays in the ALDS round each time), and has plenty of experience in managing the day-to-day operations of a club.  The team may not look to change his title, but he could end up wielding a lot of influence this upcoming year.

headshot of Rays vice president and assistant general manager Chanda Lawdermilk

(photo: Tampa Bay Rays)

Chanda Lawdermilk

Lawdermilk joined the Rays in 2018 after 10 seasons in Houston.  Lawdermilk’s role with the team has been in recruiting and talent development mostly within the baseball operations staff, but has added baseball operations over her time with the club.  With Kim Ng’s departure in Miami, Lawdermilk is one of the highest ranked women in all of baseball.  She has an extensive background in developing talent, and has been key for the club’s committment to diversity, inclusion, and a strong team culture.

headshot of former Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, who worked for the Rays from 2005-2019

(photo: Boston Red Sox)

Dark Horse: Chaim Bloom

Bloom and Erik Neander came up through the ranks together here in Tampa Bay, and were Andrew Friedman’s top lieutenants before he left for the Dodgers.  Bloom was fired before the end of the 2023 season as Boston’s Chief Baseball Officer, and was reportedly Miami’s top choice to replace Ng as their head of baseball operations.  Bloom is familiar and comfortable here in Tampa Bay, and could see this as a soft landing spot.  But his time in this role would not be long, as plenty of other teams will certainly be interested in his services in the future.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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