It is entirely possible that when the story of Chaim Bloom's Red Sox tenure is written, we'll look back at Monday's deal with the Yankees as the one that told us what he was all about.
Bloom not only traded with a division rival, he traded with THE division rival. And not only that, he helped New York solve its money crunch. By clearing all but $850,000 of Adam Ottavino's $9 million off the books, the Yankees regain some flexibility to improve a club that reached 100 wins in each of the last two full seasons and has already added salary in the form of D.J. LeMahieu and right-hander Corey Kluber.
Bloom didn't care, and he certainly didn't act out of altruism. He got something beyond a veteran reliever only two years removed from posting a 1.90 ERA who could potentially serve as his closer. He also acquired right-hander Frank German, New York's No. 24 prospect, per MLB.com.
In pulling off the first trade between the two clubs since the Kelly Johnson-for-Stephen Drew swap of 2014, Bloom served notice that he'll let his quest to rebuild the Red Sox over the long haul take him down any road -- even one that passes through the Bronx.
"But why help the Yankees?!" you might be wondering. Because their success in 2021 is irrelevant to the long-term plans of the Red Sox, who have already admitted that they're not going for broke this season. If German, a fourth-round pick in 2018, becomes a legitimate prospect, the Red Sox won't care that acquiring him helped the Yankees create the space to retain or replace Brett Gardner and win 96 games instead of 94.
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This is the beauty of the honeymoon period Bloom continues to inhabit. Even the most hardcore fans recognize that there's little point in surrendering a draft pick and $150 million for George Springer at this point in their rebuild. It's why they're not clamoring for NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer or All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, either.
Bloom is free to build without constraint, even if that means trading with the Yankees. Before the Drew deal, you had to go all the way back to 1997 and the trade that sent veteran Mike Stanley back to New York for pitching prospect Tony Armas Jr. to find another swap between the clubs.
Maybe there's a lesson there, because Armas ended up being one of the primary pieces that allowed the Red Sox to acquire a fellow by the name of Pedro Martinez a few months later.
While the odds of this deal panning out like that one are slim, it is conceptually similar, and it illustrates how Bloom is approaching his rebuild, which is to say, by any means necessary.
The Red Sox have seemed reluctant to use their financial advantages this winter while signing a series of cheap depth pieces that will decrease the odds of the club being completely unwatchable -- as was the case in 2020 -- but without exactly moving the needle.
The Ottavino trade falls in a different category. It is concrete proof of a long-range vision, it should help a bit in 2021 (especially if Ottavino can close), and it's a reminder that the Red Sox have the resources to make trades that other teams can't.
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I've been hard on the Red Sox all winter for standing pat as intermediate pieces that could help came off the board. I still wish they had found a way to sign Kluber instead of Garrett Richards. Adding Ottavino's money decreases the odds that they find a way to sign slugging outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
But let's give credit where it's due. Even if acquiring Ottavino doesn't alter the balance of power in the American League East, it should make the rest of baseball take notice that the Red Sox have a plan.