The Red Sox announced Thursday that they have fired chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. The Sox also announced that general manager Brian O’Halloran has been offered a “new senior leadership position within the baseball operations department,” further signaling a major change in the organization’s structure. O’Halloran and assistant GMs Eddie Romero, Raquel Ferreira and Michael Groopman will oversee baseball operations for the time being, but the Sox added that a search for a new baseball operations leader will begin immediately.
“While parting ways is not taken lightly, today signals a new direction for our club,” principal owner John Henry said in a statement within the press release. “Our organization has significant expectations on the field and while Chaim’s efforts in revitalizing our baseball infrastructure have helped set the stage for the future, we will today begin a search for new leadership. Everyone who knows Chaim has a deep appreciation and respect for the kind of person he is. His time with us will always be marked by his professionalism, integrity, and an unwavering respect for our club and its legacy.”
Originally hired to the post in October 2019, Bloom has overseen baseball operations for the Sox for the past four seasons. While Bloom’s Red Sox enjoyed a 92-win season in 2021 and took the Astros to six games in the ALCS that year, it’s been a largely disappointing four years for the Sox otherwise. Boston followed up that ALCS showing with a 78-84 record the following season and is currently at 73-72 with no viable path to a postseason berth.
Hired away from the division-rival Rays, where he’d paired with since-promoted president Erik Neander to oversee the baseball operations department, Bloom was long billed as a future general manager/president of baseball ops himself. His arrival in Boston followed the similarly timed firing of current Phillies president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski, who’d brought a World Series title to Boston in 2018 but endured a difficult 2019 season that ultimately cost him his job.
The hiring of Bloom, a young executive from a Rays organization widely viewed as one of the game’s model organizations, represented a departure from the experienced Dombrowski, who’s now led baseball ops for four different organizations and got his start in baseball ops way back in 1978. The Rays are admired throughout the industry for their nearly unrivaled player development expertise and the manner in which they’re able to maintain an elite farm system and competitive club while simultaneously operating under some of the sport’s most stringent payroll limitations from ownership.
The Red Sox have indeed built up their farm system under Bloom, but it’s come at the expense of results at the MLB level. Boston’s free-agent additions under Bloom have been a mixed bag, at best. The 2023 additions of Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Chris Martin and Adam Duvall have all been strong moves, as was last year’s low-cost pickup of Michael Wacha. However, the six-year deal for Trevor Story hasn’t panned out at all as hoped thus far. And while Masataka Yoshida has hit better than many anticipated when he signed a five-year, $90MM contract, he’s cooled after a strong start and turned in shaky defensive ratings that have muted his overall value. Meanwhile, free-agent deals for James Paxton, Corey Kluber, Martin Perez and Garrett Richards over the years haven’t helped the rotation as hoped.
Of course, the successful signings in and of themselves are a two-sided coin as well. The decision to buy low on Wacha proved savvy, but the Sox balked at bringing him back on a multi-year deal this winter and instead signed Kluber to a one-year pact that didn’t yield the intended results (7.04 ERA in 55 innings). The Sox also let Nathan Eovaldi depart rather than make him a multi-year offer, and while the received a compensatory pick after he signed in Texas, Eovaldi has been one of the American League’s best pitchers this season and would’ve found himself in the Cy Young conversation were it not for a recent six-week stay on the injured list.
Even that draft pick compensation the Sox received for the departures of Eovaldi and Xander Bogaerts were reduced due to some questionable front office dealings. The 2022 Red Sox tried to thread the needle between shedding salary and remaining competitive at that year’s trade deadline. While Boston traded Christian Vazquez and shed Jake Diekman’s salary, they also held onto Eovaldi, Wacha, J.D. Martinez and Rich Hill — all impending free agents — and acquired Tommy Pham. The result was a payroll that landed just a few million dollars north of the luxury tax threshold, thereby diminishing the comp picks for Bogaerts and Eovaldi. Teams that don’t pay the luxury tax receive comp picks after Competitive Balance Round B (typically around the 75th selection in the draft, give or take a few places). As a tax payor, the Sox instead received selections between the fourth and fifth round of the draft for that pair of veterans.
More to come.