The first signing of the Peter Bendix era is here. Early Friday, hours from the MLB non-tender deadline, the Marlins agreed to terms on a minor league contract with infielder Tristan Gray, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays. Craig Mish of SportsGrid originally reported the signing on X.
After the Mets took a flier on him out of high school in 2014, Gray signed his MLB contract with the Pirates in 2017 as a 13th-round pick out of Rice University. During his collegiate years, he played alongside a now-fellow Marlins prospect, Dane Myers. Fifty-three games into his pro career, Gray was flipped to the Rays in exchange for Corey Dickerson.
From early on in his pro career, one tool stood out for Gray: power. In his first three seasons in MiLB, he hit 37 home runs. From 2021-2023, Gray hit 71 home runs, 12th-most in MiLB over that span and all coming at the highest level of the minors. To make it happen, Gray has a very aggressive approach which accosts him a high K rate. His 406 strikeouts in his last 331 games are the 30th-most on the minor league circuit.
In the midst of a 151 wRC+ September, the Rays promoted Gray to make his MLB debut, filling in for Taylor Walls who was placed on the paternity list. Gray got into just two games with the Rays before being sent back down, but had a standout moment when he slammed a baseball 415 feet for his first big league home run.
At the start of the offseason, the Rays placed the 27-year-old Gray on waivers. He went unclaimed and was outrighted to AAA. Gray refused the assignment and elected free agency. He will be making the trip further south for spring training as a non-roster invitee at Marlins camp.
Miami is a fortuitous landing spot for Gray. The Marlins need help and depth on their infield, so his path to big league playing time is far simpler than it had been in talent-rich Tampa Bay. Gray is most experienced at shortstop where he has average tools, and he comes with more than 1,000 career innings played at second base and third base as well.
A player Bendix knows well, Gray will have a solid chance of playing himself into a utility role this spring.
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