New Red Sox Chief Bloom Has Much Work To Do

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On Monday the Red Sox introduced former Tamp Bay Ray executive Chaim Bloom as their newly created Chief Baseball Officer.  Whether the title is Chief Baseball Officer, General Manager, President or Senior Vice President, Bloom replaces the departed Dave Dombrowski as the man responsible for the on-field product Red Sox fans will see in 2020 and beyond.  With that title also comes the nearly impossible job of both fielding a competitive team while getting the Red Sox payroll under the luxury tax threshold.

Photo courtesy of DRaysBay.com
If you want to learn more about Bloom’s background and credentials, go check out this article by the Syndicate’s Matt Desrosiers.  I’m going to focus on the daunting task that lies ahead for Bloom.  Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner have already stated it is their intent to get the Red Sox 2020 payroll below the first luxury tax threshold of $208 M.  If they exceed that threshold it will trigger punitive damages from Major League Baseball which will include hefty payments and the loss of future draft picks.  Neither is desirable to the team.

Dombrowski was released because ownership did not view him as a suitable candidate to achieve the owner’s fiscal mandate moving forward.  He was the perfect man to build a team to win a World Series, but his deal and spend M.O. is not what the team needs now.  Instead, Bloom was brought in from a team whose payroll was less than the Red Sox starting rotation alone, and yet finished ahead of the Sox by 12 games in the AL East standings.

Bloom now is in the unenviable position of being the guy whose first order of business will likely be dealing away fan favorite Mookie Betts.  Betts is due for a huge payday, and has made it clear that he intends to explore free agency when he is eligible after the 2020 season.  In the interim he is likely to get a deal in the range of $25 - $28 M for 2020, either through agreement with the team or through the arbitration process.

Shop for officially licensed MLB Jerseys from Majestic at Shop.MLB.comThe Red Sox are currently committed to a payroll of approximately $155 M in 2020.  This includes the $23.75 M salary of J.D. Martinez, who could potentially opt out within five days of the completion of the World Series.  It does not include salaries for Betts and other arbitration eligible players like Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes or Heath Hembree,  It also does not include what are expected to be modest raises for other players still under team control like Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers.

In addition to players already on the roster, Bloom will also have to find at least a fifth starter to replace free agent Rick Porcello, and maybe another starter if Chris Sale’s elbow does not respond to treatment.  Bloom will also have to acquire a starting first baseman, second baseman, a late inning reliever or two, and a back-up catcher.  

Bloom will bring to the Red Sox the analytical expertise with which he helped build the Rays, and he will need it.  He will not have the luxury of going shopping for high-priced players with Henry’s Black American Express card, as Dombrowski has done in the past.  He also does not have a stable of major league ready talent to draw from in the minors, which would provide lower cost options to fill holes in the roster. 

It is almost assured that the 2020 Red Sox will have a different look form the 2018 and 2019 editions.  Bloom will be the man to build that roster.  If he deals off Betts, he will have to be very careful with the players he gets in exchange, because he cannot afford to not get a quality return for one of the marquee players in the game, especially in one of his first deals as Red Sox boss.  

If Martinez decides to opt-out, there is a possibility the Red Sox will be able to keep Betts in 2020, but replacing Martinez's bat in the lineup will be challenging.  In addition, Bloom will also likely have to either trade away several other lesser salaried players, or rely on low priced talent to fill the remaining gaps.

Whatever strategy Bloom employs, one thing is certain.  This Red Sox offseason will be much more eventful than the last.  And we will be watching his every move.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: New Red Sox Chief Bloom Has Much Work To Do
New Red Sox Chief Bloom Has Much Work To Do
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