The Red Sox released lefthander Matt Dermody Friday, a little more than a week after his call-up embroiled the team in controversy related to a homophobic tweet from 2021 in which the pitcher disparaged Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community.
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran said the decision to release Dermody — who after being designated for assignment following his spot start last Thursday was assigned to Worcester and made a start there — was made to clear a roster spot for another pitcher. They characterized it as a baseball decision that factored in Dermody’s social media activity.
“Any time there’s any moves, there’s usually a lot of factors that go into it,” said Bloom. “In this case, we’re going to have in the very near future a series of moves throughout the system that are going to push some guys out.
“So then we have to assess opportunity going forward in Triple A and who we want to give opportunity to and the types of things we’re going to want to do with that roster over time to both develop the guys we have and insulate ourselves up here. And with all that, he ended up being the odd man out.”
“We wanted to give opportunity to other players,” added O’Halloran. “But that said, we factor in everything. Certainly we considered everything that became public with regard to his Twitter activity. That was also something that we factored into this decision.”
Dermody had deleted the original tweet in 2021. The Sox say they found out about it in spring training, after signing the pitcher to a minor league contract in January. They addressed the tweet with Dermody in a spring meeting, and opted at that time to keep him in the organization based on the substance of that conversation.
The tweet surfaced publicly last Wednesday, one day prior to Dermody’s call-up and start in Cleveland against the Guardians, a game the Sox lost in a blowout. While Bloom initially backed Dermody, additional offensive social media activity soon came to light.
Bloom said this week that he and the organization had been unaware of the additional activity until the pitcher’s start. He said the organization’s typically “robust” due diligence failed in this instance, and, as a result, Dermody’s call-up caused a degree of harm for which Bloom and the organization were responsible.
Why didn’t the Sox release Dermody after his start in Cleveland, rather than returning him to Worcester after he’d been removed from the 40-man roster?
“The combination of factors hadn’t gotten to the point where we made a decision to do that,” said O’Halloran. “We weren’t ready to move other players. There wasn’t that impetus.
“And we had only recently learned about some of the [additional social media] activities that we needed to factor in, and we had to have a process for that and had to have the conversations around that because there’s new information.”
While O’Halloran and Bloom characterized on-field considerations as a primary driver of the decision to release Dermody, both also acknowledged regret for the harm that his call-up caused.
“Any difficulty that we have around it, anything we’re dealing with around it, is nothing compared to the hurt that things like this can cause people that we care about,” said O’Halloran. “We regret that this caused people to feel that hurt.
“I’m sorry about that. We’re sorry about that. We celebrated Pride Day the other day and that was an incredible day at the ballpark. The atmosphere here was so joyous and celebratory on the field and in the stands.
“We’re proud of our history of celebrating Pride Night and standing next to the LGBTQ+ community. We’re sorry that a roster decision that we made caused harm to that community. We regret that it hurt people in the community, it hurt our fans, it hurt people that work in the organization.”
The decision to release Dermody, said Bloom, does not permit the team to wash its hands of that harm.
“There’s no undo button,” said Bloom. “It’s something we have to own and learn from. We missed an opportunity to be able to ask all the right questions. That isn’t something that ultimately we can undo, and again, that’s something we have to learn from and be better.”