Tom Werner

In Chaim Bloom hire, Red Sox ownership returns to its original vision

In Chaim Bloom hire, Red Sox ownership returns to its original vision

Dave Dombrowski helped build one of the greatest teams in major league history, period.

He also represented an aberration of sorts for a Boston Red Sox ownership group that returned to course Monday while announcing the hire of Chaim Bloom as its chief baseball officer.

"I think (Bloom) is closer to the executive they were trying to develop in Ben Cherington, and what they had with Theo (Epstein)," former New York Mets general manager Jim Duquette told NBC Sports Boston.

"This is what I believe the Red Sox had in mind basically when this new ownership took over."

To Duquette's point: Principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner have hired four heads of baseball operations since purchasing the team in 2001. Three were Ivy-educated (Epstein and Bloom attended Yale; Cherington attended Amherst College before going on to Harvard Business School) and well shy of 40.

The other was Dombrowski.

Again: The results paid off with Dombrowski. The combined disaster of the 2014 and 2015 campaigns led Henry and Co. to cut bait with Cherington and enter "win now" mode by hiring Dombrowski, who lived up to his billing by gutting the farm system Cherington cultivated to produce a winner in 2018.

But Dombrowski was a mercenary, and with the transaction of a World Series title complete, the Red Sox seemed eager to turn the page Monday.

"I would just say we were extremely desirous of bringing in someone who would augment and add as opposed to just bringing in someone who might have been an autocrat, for instance, a one-man show," Henry said at Monday's press conference.

That's a pretty clear distinction between what the Red Sox had in Dombrowski and what the Red Sox are getting in Bloom, whom Duquette describes as a collaborative leader who's simply "an easy guy to talk to."

Personal traits notwithstanding, the Boston brass also is counting on Bloom to rebuild its barren farm system and attempt to recreate the model of sustainable success that Epstein established almost two decades ago.

"What is the fabric of your organization? What are you trying to build?" Duquette said. "I think that’s what the Red Sox are trying to accomplish: win, but also develop and establish a core group."

Bloom is well-suited for that task coming from the Tampa Bay Rays, where he helped build a solid foundation with a (very) limited budget as vice president of baseball operations.

Not that it's an easy task. The 36-year-old has several looming problems to address, most notably whether to trade superstar outfielder Mookie Betts before he becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season and whether to re-sign slugger J.D. Martinez, especially if he opts out of his current contract.

Oh, and he'll face a bit more scrutiny in Boston than he did in Tampa.

"This fan base knows the 25th through the 40th man on the roster. They know what he looks like," Duquette added. "Chaim’s dinner reservations? They're going to change for him."

Bloom clearly is what the Red Sox envision in their head of baseball operations, though. So, he should feel pretty comfortable making those reservations.

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Chaim Bloom, Red Sox brass address Mookie Betts' future in Boston

Chaim Bloom, Red Sox brass address Mookie Betts' future in Boston

Chaim Bloom has plenty on his plate as he takes the Chief Baseball Officer title for the Red Sox, and figuring out the future of Mookie Betts is right at the top of the list.

Betts is entering the final year of his Red Sox contract and there hasn't been any indication the two sides are remotely close to coming to terms on an extension. All signs point toward the 2018 American League MVP being prepared to test out free agency in 2020, which brings into question whether the team could look to trade the face of their franchise.

During Bloom's introductory press conference on Monday, the 36-year-old was peppered with several questions regarding the direction of the organization. Predictably, a number of those questions were Betts-related, but Bloom opted not to get into specifics during his first day on the job.

“Just having gotten here, obviously I come in with some information having competed against this team for a long time," Bloom said. "There’s a lot I don’t know and a lot I’m still learning."

As Bloom gets himself situated in his new role, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and principal owner John Henry will continue to face questions regarding Betts until the star right fielder's contract situation is resolved.

Werner reiterated his prior comments regarding the organization's desire to keep Betts in Boston for the rest of his career, though he didn't exactly exude confidence in the two sides reaching an agreement any time soon.

“As we’ve said, we think he’s one of the great players in baseball, and in a perfect world, we would like to figure out a way for him to continue to be a player for us for [the rest of] his career,” Werner said. “He has the right to test free agency. We had conversations with him in the past, and Chaim and his group will lead conversations going forward.”

Since planning out Betts' future is the No. 1 order of business for Bloom as he takes over for Dave Dombrowski, it's conceivable his name was brought up multiple times during the interview process with the new Chief Baseball Officer.

Henry acknowledged there indeed were discussions with Bloom about Betts, though there other variables that come into play including whether Mookie even wants to be in Boston for the long haul.

“I would say we talked about that there are a lot of tough decisions to make this offseason,” Henry said. “That’s not uncommon during offseasons, but there are some significant decisions. They’re not all in our hands, obviously. The first one is not our decision to make, but it will impact us.

"It was more of a general discussion. We talked about Mookie, JD [Martinez], other issues, but we didn’t focus on ‘What should we do?’ because you’re going to be looking at a number of factors, including where Mookie wants to play — for the long term.”

Between Betts' uncertain future, J.D. Martinez potentially opting out of his contract, and the money tied up within the Red Sox rotation, Bloom has quite the mess to sort out this offseason. But if there's one thing Sox brass wants to be made clear, it's that they believe Bloom is the perfect man for the job.

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Mookie Betts removed from Red Sox season ticket web page

Mookie Betts removed from Red Sox season ticket web page

Are the Red Sox sending a not-so-subtle hint about Mookie Betts' future in Boston to prospective season ticket holders?

When you visit the portion of the team website seeking new season-ticket buyers, the illustration on the web page shows Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale.

Barstool Sports' Jared Carrabis pointed out earlier this week that Betts had been removed from the illustration. The Red Sox All-Star right fielder and 2018 AL MVP, the subject of much trade speculation as the team prepares to shed payroll this offseason, actually appeared on the page in mid-August. By last week, Eduardo Rodriguez had replaced him. The current graphic has Sale on the left.  

Just like the others pictured on the page, Betts isn't a free agent...yet. Bogaerts and Sale have signed long-term extensions and the Sox are reportedly ready to talk about an extension with Devers. Betts? He'll likely receive more than $30 million for the 2020 season in arbitration then command a long-term deal of $300 million or more when he tests the free-agent market after next season.

That kind of financial commitment due the soon-to-be-27-year-old (happy birthday on Monday, Mookie) - and Red Sox ownership's admission that their goal is to get under the $208 million luxury-tax threshold - has led many to believe that Betts will be traded this winter.

A report even emerged this week of what the Red Sox would be seeking in a Betts trade. 

Red Sox team chairman Tom Werner said last week the team remains hopeful of keeping Betts. Still, with his teammates assuming he'll be gone before next season begins, the Sox appear to be reluctant to promote a player to season-ticket holders who'll be in another uniform.

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