Red Sox

Five pressing issues Chaim Bloom will need to address on Day 1 as Red Sox boss

Five pressing issues Chaim Bloom will need to address on Day 1 as Red Sox boss

Now that Chaim Bloom is headed to Boston, the real fun begins.

Hiring a decision-maker was the first priority of the Red Sox offseason, but in a way, it was the easiest item on the to-do list, since even if the Red Sox remained within the organization, they were assured of making a strong hire. Outside of Bobby Valentine, John Henry and Co. have proven over the past 20 years that they don't screw up their management choices.

With a source confirming that Bloom is headed to Boston as director of baseball operations -- as first reported by the New York Post's Joel Sherman -- the ex-Rays exec must get quickly up to speed on the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of his new organization.

He'll have help, with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reporting that the Gang of Four (Brian O'Halloran, Eddie Romero, Zack Scott and Raquel Ferreira) will remain in Boston and assistant GM O'Halloran will be promoted to general manager.

That said, there's no time to waste, so let's lay out some of Bloom's most pressing issues.

1. TRADING MOOKIE BETTS

There's really nowhere else to start, right? As we laid out earlier, Bloom (alongside Tampa GM Erik Neander) was aggressive about dealing veterans for youth out of necessity in Tampa. The closest they came to dealing a player the caliber of Betts is when they sent franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to the Giants in December of 2017. The return has thus far proven underwhelming, though the deal did allow the Rays to get out from under roughly $60 million of the final $86 million on Longoria's deal, money they used to build back-to-back 90-game winners.

Betts will be a free agent next fall, so he's not locked in like Longoria was. There aren't a lot of comps to suggest what Boston might receive in return, but contenders like the Braves and Phillies should be among Bloom's first calls.

One aspect of this deal to watch will be whether Bloom seeks straight prospects in return -- as he generally did in Tampa -- or proven big leaguers. Speaking of which . . .

2. REPLENISH THE FARM SYSTEM

Be prepared to see a slew of veteran-for-prospect trades this winter, because the Red Sox desperately need to infuse one of the game's thinnest minor league systems with youth. The good news is whatever internal evaluations Bloom made of opposing organizations in Tampa can come with him to Boston.

The Rays were particularly adept at identifying talent in seemingly minor deals, whether it was landing corner infielder Yandy Diaz from the Indians to help facilitate a three-way trade involving sluggers Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion, adding reliever Ryan Yarbrough (27 wins in 2 years) in a package for Drew Smyly, or snagging hard-throwing reliever Emilio Pagan in another three-way deal with the Rangers and A's. Oh, and while the Red Sox don't regret a thing about the deal that brought them Nathan Eovaldi in 2018, the Rays have been happy with left-hander Jalen Beeks.

So where might the Red Sox stop chopping . . .

3. MOVE JACKIE BRADLEY JR., AMONG OTHERS

The Gold Glove center fielder (he's a finalist again this year) has had a tumultuous Red Sox career, earning ALCS MVP honors in 2018, but struggling to deliver anything remotely resembling offensive consistency.

Now that he's due more than $10 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, he's no longer cost-effective. He will almost certainly be dealt this winter, presumably for prospects.

Another name to watch is catcher Christian Vazquez. He's coming off a career year and due more than $10 million over the next two years, but the advanced analytics aren't as kind to him as numbers like his 23 homers, and catcher is a position the Rays often viewed as pretty fungible -- they've employed five different primary starters in the last six years.
Put another way: everyone is on the table.

4. JETTISON A STARTER

In David Price, Chris Sale, and Eovaldi, the Red Sox feature a trio of contractual albatrosses who are due $79 million in each of the next three seasons. For the Red Sox to regain control of their payroll, at least one of them has to go -- Price seems like the best bet -- but good luck making that happen. All three are injury risks, and moving on from any one of them would represent the definition of selling low, before we even take into account how much money the Red Sox would have to eat.

Doesn't matter. Financial flexibility depends on it.

5. EVALUATE SYSTEMS

This should probably be No. 1 on the list, because long-term, it's the reason Bloom is here. Tampa was renowned as one of the most forward-thinking organizations in the game, but the Red Sox had lagged under Dombrowski, focusing their attention on maximizing the big league roster at the expense of the farm system, not to mention the next generation of data integration and evaluative tools that could not only improve the lineup, but help identify trade targets. So that's the list, but it's by no means comprehensive. The real work starts. . . now.

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Report: Former Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez to join Mets as non-roster invite to spring training

Report: Former Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez to join Mets as non-roster invite to spring training

Midway through the 2019 MLB season, the struggling Boston Red Sox made an attempt to shake things up on their bench and get them back into the playoff race. That decision involved designating Eduardo Nunez for assignment.

Nunez spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox after he was acquired at the 2017 MLB trade deadline. Nunez quickly endeared himself to Boston fans by batting .321 and smashing eight homers in 38 games with the team.

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But after his first season, Nunez's production tailed off. He was still productive during the team's 2018 World Series run, though he was hampered by a knee injury, before things bottomed out in 2019. He was hitting just .228 at the time of his release and his defensive range was declining because of his balky knee.

Now, after remaining out of MLB work for almost half a year, it looks like Nunez is getting one more shot at sticking around in the MLB.

According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, the New York Mets have invited Nunez to join them as a non-roster invite at spring training in 2020. 

It may be tough for Nunez to ultimately win a spot with the Mets, who also have former Red Sox shortstop/third baseman Jed Lowrie on the team. But he is going to be on a minor league deal as a result of this signing.

And if injuries strike and Nunez proves himself, perhaps he could eventually earn a roster spot.

We'll soon see what happens with Nunez, but it is nice to see the 32-year-old get another chance to play at the MLB level, even if it is just a spring training invite.

Dodgers president on Red Sox, Astros sign-stealing: 'I'd like to have answers'

Dodgers president on Red Sox, Astros sign-stealing: 'I'd like to have answers'

Los Angeles Dodgers team president Stan Kasten, in his first public comments on the sign-stealing scandal that has rocked baseball, lamented that he still has many unanswered questions after Major League Baseball's punishment of the Houston Astros. 

Kasten noted that the investigation isn't over, with MLB continuing to look into the Red Sox' alleged sign-stealing using video - a system that Alex Cora reportedly brought to Boston as manager after serving as Astros bench coach.

"This investigation isn't over," Kasten said, via Evan Drellich of The Athletic, who along with colleague Ken Rosenthal broke the stories detailing the Astros' and Red Sox' schemes.  "I’d like to have answers to many questions about what happened, by whom and when."

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Kasten saw his Dodgers lose World Series in 2017 to Houston and 2018 to Boston, only to have those two championships called into question after MLB's report on the Astros' tactics led to the firing of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. Cora also parted ways with the Red Sox amid the controversy and Carlos Beltran, a player on the '17 Astros involved in the scheme, was fired just months after being named manager of the New York Mets.  

Houston was also fined $5 million and docked draft picks. The Red Sox could face similar penalties.

Here are Kasten's full comments, via Drellich:

Earlier this week, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred shot down suggestions that the World Series titles could be stripped from the Astros and Red Sox, a request made by, among others, the L.A. City Council. 

Speaking specifically about losing to the Astros in the 2017 Series, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, at the team's Fan Fest on Saturday, questioned the legitimacy of Houston's title.  

"We know how hard it is to win a World Series," Turner said. "We know that it's something you really have to earn, and with the commissioner's report and the evidence and what they had, it's hard to feel like they earned it and they earned the right to be called champions."