Red Sox

Red Sox

Here's the reality: There's a good chance new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom makes a few Boston Red Sox fans unhappy this winter.

Slugger J.D. Martinez has decided not to opt out of his contract, which on its face is good news for Boston. But it also increases the likelihood of the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts, who is entering the final year of his contract and should demand upwards of $30 million per year the following season.

If the Red Sox want to cut payroll, it will be very hard to devote more than $50 million (Martinez will make $23.75 million in 2020) to two players next season. That means trading either Martinez or Betts.

So, how would Bloom go about trading a fan favorite and former American League MVP? In a recent conversation with NBC Sports Boston, former New York Mets manager Jim Duquette suggested a similar deal pulled off by Arizona Diamondbacks general manager (and former Red Sox executive) Mike Hazen could be a blueprint.

"They did a pretty good job of trading Paul Goldschmidt in the final year of his deal," Duquette told NBC Sports Boston. "They didn’t want to, but (Hazen) got back some pretty good pieces from St. Louis. I think if you’re going to trade Mookie, that’s the kind of model that you’re looking at."

In December 2018, the rebuilding Diamondbacks shipped Goldschmidt -- a six-time All-Star and franchise cornerstone on a team-friendly deal -- to the Cardinals for three prospects (pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly and infielder Andy Young) and a 2019 Competitive Balance draft pick.

 

So far, the returns look promising, as Weaver and Kelly both contributed at the MLB level for an Arizona team focused on competing in the long-term and that finished with a better 2019 record than Boston at 85-77.

"(The trade) wasn’t popular in Arizona, but (Hazen) basically said, ‘We’re trying to win this year and many years from now. We’re not going to get better right of the gate with the trade of Goldschmidt, but we want to get three or four controllable pieces.' That’s what he did, and it ended up working out pretty well for them."

Bloom and the Red Sox share a similar vision of long-term success. The obvious difference? Boston has one of largest payrolls in baseball and a passionate fanbase that won't settle for a traditional "rebuild" that's common practice for a small-market team like the Diamondbacks.

Duquette is keenly aware of those pressures, as he still takes criticism from Mets fans for trading away future All-Stars Scott Kazmir and Jose Bautista.

"It’s hard when you trade one of the best players in your sport to tell an educated fanbase that you got better," Duquette said, referencing a potential Betts trade. "It’s just not going to happen."

That said, Bloom's résumé may help him navigate these waters: The 36-year-old executive had to squeeze the most out of a tiny payroll as the Tampa Bay Rays' senior vice president of baseball operations, suggesting he's well-equipped to hunt for value in a potential Betts deal.

"I do think he has the discipline to not accept less," Duquette said of Bloom. "So, if he doesn’t get what he wants, then he’s going to hold onto him.

"And that’s not a bad thing, either, holding onto Mookie Betts."

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