WASHINGTON — The Red Sox, seeking a new approach after finishing in third place with the highest payroll in team history, turned to a division rival in their search for fresh leadership.
Chaim Bloom, who helped build the Tampa Bay Rays into one of baseball’s most innovative and successful teams, will join the Sox as their chief baseball officer.
Industry sources said Bloom, 36, agreed to a contract Friday and could be introduced as soon as Monday. Major League Baseball did not want an official announcement Friday with Game 3 of the World Series being played.
Brian O’Halloran will become general manager in what is a new leadership structure for the team.
Bloom becomes the fourth head of baseball operations in nine years for the Red Sox. He replaces Dave Dombrowski, who was fired Sept. 8, only 10 months and 11 days after the team won the World Series.
Bloom will inherit a team in transition. The Red Sox finished 84-78 this season and missed the postseason for the first time since 2015.
J.D. Martinez, who led the team with 36 home runs, can opt out of his contract five days after the World Series and ace lefthander Chris Sale is still recovering from an elbow injury that ended his season in August.
Principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner have said they want to slash payroll approximately 15 percent to get under MLB’s luxury-tax threshold of $208 million. Reaching that goal could require trading one or more high-salaried players, perhaps even star right fielder Mookie Betts.
Bloom is accustomed to succeeding with much tighter budgets. The Rays had a payroll of approximately $68 million this season and finished 96-66, 12 games ahead of the Sox.
The Rays have been adept at building depth through the amateur draft and creative trades. They employed statistical analysis to identify undervalued free agents, improve efficiency on the field and evaluate prospects.
Bloom was instrumental in the Rays developing an enviable group of young pitchers by using them as “openers” who pitched an inning or two instead of as conventional starters.
Tampa Bay’s analytics staff is one of the largest in the game and Bloom is sure to make that a focal point of his regime.
The Red Sox believe Bloom can do for them what another Tampa Bay executive, Andrew Friedman, has accomplished with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers hired Friedman before the 2015 season. They have since led the majors in victories, won the National League West every season, and have two pennants. Friedman also has cut the team’s payroll by roughly 20 percent.
What the Dodgers haven’t done under Friedman is win the World Series, something Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, and Dombrowski did for the Red Sox before discordant departures.
Bloom, sources said, was the only candidate interviewed by the Sox. Ownership has already said manger Alex Cora would be retained and it’s believed he was part of the interview process.
O’Halloran was one of the four executives who ran the team following Dombrowski’s dismissal. He has been with the Sox since 2002 when he was an unpaid intern.
Fellow assistant GMs Eddie Romero and Zack Scott will remain in their roles.
Senior vice president of operations Raquel Ferreira also will remain with the team in the same position.
Bloom, a native of Philadelphia whose first name is pronounced HIGH-em, graduated from Yale in 2004 and had internships with MLB and the San Diego Padres before joining the Rays and working his way up in that organization.
Bloom became Tampa Bay’s senior vice president of baseball operations in 2016, the No. 2 spot to senior vice president and general manager Erik Neander. The Mets considered Bloom for their GM position last fall before hiring Brodie Van Wagenen.
Bloom’s wife, Aliza, is a Lexington native. The couple has two young sons.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.