CARLSBAD, Calif. — Chaim Bloom has made 19 trades in the 24 months he has been chief baseball officer of the Red Sox. Most of the deals were subtractions, shedding salary or unwanted players.
You know the names. Going, going, gone were Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, David Price, and Mitch Moreland, among others.
It was painful and to some degree necessary, even if the organization will be forever stained by getting to a point where it felt the best option was to trade a generational player in Betts.
But the result has been a deeper farm system and a payroll that, while still among the highest in the game, is far more manageable over the long term.
The trades also helped shape a team that finished two victories away from the World Series this past season.
Now what? Is this the offseason Bloom flips the switch and uses that deeper pool of prospect depth and malleable payroll to make trades with a direct impact on the big league roster?
“It’s a question of what is the cost and what is the payoff?” Bloom said Tuesday at the general managers meetings. “The deeper you are, the more you are going to be able to take advantage of opportunities.”
The opportunities are already there. The Athletics and Reds are cutting payroll and the Marlins are opening to listening to offers on what is a deep pool of starting pitchers.
Free agency could be stalled as the industry waits for a collective bargaining agreement to be struck. That could serve to speed up the trade market.
Bloom’s inner timetable for the Sox has been reset, too. A 92-win season and a deep playoff run has him hungry for more.
“I’m most encouraged by what it means for getting the culture and expectations in our clubhouse back to where the Red Sox have been historically,” he said. “Now we have a number of players who experienced this for the first time. Before they had just seen it on TV.
“Once you know what it feels like, you’re not thinking about the season as 162 games anymore. You’re thinking of it as including October, and that’s a really powerful thing to have in the clubhouse.”
The Red Sox have a need at second base or center field, depending how they want to use Kiké Hernández. The bullpen needs reliable late-inning options.
The rotation will need a boost, too, even if Eduardo Rodriguez returns. The Sox are expecting a full season from Chris Sale, but his days of chewing up 200 innings are probably over. And while Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock are intriguing rotation possibilities, they could be more valuable in the bullpen while continuing to develop.
Three of Oakland’s starters — Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, and Frankie Montas — are in line for significant raises via arbitration. The Reds could make Luis Castillo available.
Three playoff teams came out of the American League East last season with the Blue Jays just missing. As Bloom noted, the first part of his job will be building a roster to succeed in a tough division.
“The division is tough. Four teams won 90-plus games,” Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said. “I stopped worrying about it because that’s just how it is and it’s not changing.
“I think all of us understand that and understand how good you have to be to get through it.”
Bloom said he’s open to making deals with anybody, including his former boss at Tampa Bay, Erik Neander. Or with former Rays colleagues James Click (Astros) and Andrew Friedman (Dodgers), for that matter.
To date, the only trade Bloom has made with anybody from that group was sending spare pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to the Rays last February for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez.
“From a personal level it’s easy to have those conversations,” Bloom said. “But we probably see the world in similar ways, and that can make it more difficult.”
However it plays out, Bloom is done subtracting. He’s ready to add.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.