The Red Sox fired chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom Thursday, ownership again changing course after an executive they believed would build an annual contender instead drove the organization into last place.
Bloom was hired in 2019, bringing with him a plan for sustainable success from his time with the Tampa Bay Rays. He instead angered much of the fan base by methodically stripping the team of its stars and replacing them with an ever-changing cast of affordable veterans, role players, and prospects.
The Sox were 73-72 at the time of his ouster, tied with the Yankees at the bottom of the American League East and 267-262 under Bloom over four seasons. His tenure was marked by the franchise losing its status among Major League Baseball’s powers.
Declining attendance and interest was the result, as patches of empty seats became common at Fenway Park.
“We all know where we are in the standings. It’s a painful reality that fans feel as deeply as we do,” said Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy, who represented ownership in explaining the decision. “Our fans deserve a winning, competitive team that consistently plays postseason baseball.”
A statement issued by principal owner John Henry said: “While parting ways is not taken lightly, today signals a new direction for our club. Our organization has significant expectations on the field and while Chaim’s efforts in revitalizing our baseball infrastructure have helped set the stage for the future, we will today begin a search for new leadership.”
Henry, who also owns the Globe, also lauded Bloom’s character.
Brian O’Halloran was named to a “new senior leadership position within baseball operations” and will not continue as general manager.
O’Halloran and assistant GMs Raquel Ferreira, Eddie Romero, and Mike Groopman will run baseball operations until a new leader is named.
Kennedy said the Sox would conduct a methodical search. Their list will not include former Sox GM Theo Epstein, now a consultant with Major League Baseball. He is not interested in the job.
Potential candidates include former Astros GM James Click, Phillies GM and New Hampshire native Sam Fuld, Dodgers GM and Fall River native Brandon Gomes, Guardians assistant GM James Harris, Orioles assistant GM Sig Mejdal, and Braves assistant GM Ben Sestanovich, a former Harvard player.
If the Sox seek experience, 67-year-old former Giants GM Brian Sabean, a New Hampshire native, would be a possibility. He is a consultant with the Yankees. Or Josh Byrnes, a Dodgers executive who was GM of the Diamondbacks and Padres and is a former assistant GM with the Sox.
Bloom is the third consecutive baseball operations leader to last less than four years on the job.
Ben Cherington took over as Sox general manager in 2012 after Epstein left for the Chicago Cubs. Cherington was replaced by Dave Dombrowski during the 2015 season.
Dombrowski built a series of entertaining first-place teams, including the 2018 club that won 108 games in the regular season and then a World Series title.
But he was fired only 10 months later because of what were termed “philosophical differences” with ownership. Bloom was hired away from Tampa Bay seven weeks later.
Since 2019, Henry and team chairman Tom Werner have dropped the team’s payroll from $243.6 million to $181.3 million while expressing faith in Bloom’s ability to construct a competitive team.
That proved ill-founded. As they dropped to 13th in MLB in payroll while still charging the game’s highest prices for tickets, the Sox bottomed out.
Under Bloom, the Sox traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in 2020 in what was essentially a salary dump. The return was Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs.
Verdugo has been an above-average outfielder but was benched twice this season, once for lack of effort and a second time for tardiness. Wong, 27, has shown promise as a good defensive catcher. Downs was released in 2022.
Betts helped lead the Dodgers to a World Series title in 2020 and remains one of the premier players in the game.
In 2021, the Sox traded Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City as part of a three-team deal. The return was outfielder Franchy Cordero, who has since been released, and four prospects. Of the prospects, only righthanded reliever Josh Winckowski has advanced to the majors.
In 2022, the Sox made only a token effort to sign All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a contract extension in spring training. He became a free agent and was signed to an 11-year, $280 million deal by the Padres. The only compensation the Sox received for a franchise icon was a supplemental fourth-round draft pick.
Bloom made another curious move after the 2021 season, trading productive right fielder Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee for former Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and two prospects. Bradley hit poorly in 2022 and was released in August.
Bloom signed Rafael Devers to a long-term contract in January and in December won the bidding for Japanese standout Masataka Yoshida. But most of his other acquisitions were second-tier veterans signed to affordable deals, one-dimensional bench players, or young players claimed off waivers.
The result was a constant churn of the roster, as Nate Eovaldi, J.D. Martinez, and Michael Wacha joined Betts, Benintendi, Bogaerts, and other former Sox players finding success with other teams.
The Sox’ only winning season under Bloom came in 2021 when they went 92-70 and advanced to the American League Championship Series.
But that team was systematically dismantled. Among the regular players, only Devers, Verdugo, Chris Sale, and a few other pitchers remain.
Bloom significantly improved the infrastructure of the player development system and added to the staff in baseball operations, particularly in research and development.
But the Sox steadily dropped in the AL East as the Blue Jays and Orioles climbed past them and became contenders. The Sox are now arguably further away from a championship than all four of their division foes.
“I think me and him, we grew up a lot in the last few years,” manager Alex Cora said. “It’s like your business, right? You don’t agree with everything that your partners do or what they think. But at the end of the day you guys work together for the benefit of your business. It’s the same thing here.”
Under Bloom, the Sox have been weak defensively the last two years, lacked pitching depth, and often resorted to part-time players hitting in the middle of the lineup.
“We expected a team that would be in this thing, a postseason contender, and unfortunately we all know we fell short of that,” Kennedy said. “We are in the results business. Results, ultimately, always matter.”
After Devers agreed to his new contract, Bloom addressed fans directly and predicted success for the organization.
“We’re going to do this. It’s going to be awesome,” he said. “We are going to get there.”
Eight months later, Bloom is out and the team’s future is again cloudy.
Read more about Chaim Bloom
- Chaim Bloom may be (relatively) new to Boston, but his family roots run deep
- Running through Chaim Bloom’s trade history with the Red Sox
- A day with Chaim Bloom, from an early-morning run to running the Red Sox and everything in between
- From March 2023: Chaim Bloom is transforming the Red Sox. What does the future hold?
- From February 2023: Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy says chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s job is safe
- From December 2022: Under Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox have traded their knockout signings of the past for a series of small jabs
- From December 2022: At the San Diego airport, a stunned Chaim Bloom tried to process the reality of the Red Sox without Xander Bogaerts