Imagine you landed your dream house in your ideal neighborhood... except there's one catch. You can't make any significant changes to the place - interior or exterior - for the first 3 years of living there. No remodeling the kitchen. That white picket fence you pictured around the backyard must wait. Not even the broken window or the old shingles on the roof that badly need replacing can be touched. Before long, you'd probably be counting down the minutes until these restrictions were lifted so that you can finally begin to build your own home the way you envisioned it.
I imagine Chaim Bloom knows this feeling, or something along those lines. And now that the metaphorical clock is approaching zero, I have to believe there's some excitement being felt in the Red Sox front office.
Ever since Boston's Chief Baseball Officer accepted the job, he's been dealing with a mess that he had no hand in creating. As much as I loved the 2018 season (and even the previous two division titles, which were also fun) the fallout from the Dombrowski Era has been nothing short of gut-wrenching. The contracts awarded to David Price, Chris Sale, J.D. Martinez, Nate Eovaldi, and others created abysmal payroll conditions which ultimately forced the infamous Mookie Betts trade, and certainly prevented additional activity on the free agent market.
This isn't to suggest that all of said contracts have turned out terribly; the impending opt out that Xander Bogaerts will exercise in order to seek a raise in salary is a reflection of how well that extension turned out for the Red Sox. However, the amount of dollars committed to aging players who were signed under previous leadership has exceeded NINE FIGURES annually in each of the past 3 seasons. Regardless of anyone's feelings or opinions, that's a mathematical fact, and one that greatly hinders Chaim Bloom's ability to do his job. Not to mention, he inherited a minor league farm system ranked dead last in MLB at the time, severely limiting both trade capital and internal depth.
A lot has been made of Bloom's "strategy" to make supplemental additions in lieu of major blockbuster transactions over the past couple winters. Frankly, it doesn't appear that there was much of a choice. Between a depleted prospect pipeline and a payroll that has routinely sat towards the top of the league, the resources to sign a Max Scherzer or trade for a Juan Soto simply haven't been there for Bloom up to this point. Moving forward, any conservative approach can be questioned legitimately, and the expectations of "sustainability and competitiveness over the long term" should be heightened without any built-in excuses to fall back on if the Red Sox underperform. However, any damning judgment of Bloom's Red Sox teams prior to 2023 (and especially the calls for him to be fired) are wildly unfair, mainly because they weren't truly his teams.
This offseason should be somewhat telling of how Red Sox Nation can expect the front office to operate under Bloom in the years to come. Some decisions - whether it be letting a franchise icon leave in free agency, the pursuit of a former rival coming off a historic campaign, or basically any other possible noteworthy development - will be unpopular. The plethora of Rule 5 eligible talent at the upper levels of the minor leagues make it easy to envision trades designed to improve the major league roster. It wouldn't surprise me if dipping back under the CBT for another season were a priority, if only to blow past it in 2024 and beyond. There may be some surprises in store, or it could be another relatively quiet offseason that leaves fans and analysts with more questions than answers.
Either way, Boston and the rest of the baseball world should finally get a glimpse at what Bloom is capable of doing. Because if we're being honest, the guy supposedly calling the shots in Beantown hasn't really been afforded that opportunity since he signed on.