It’s become clear that the Red Sox have long known that they were never going to offer Xander Bogaerts a contract that he would accept. In the wake of Bogaerts’ megadeal with the Padres, angry fans have recriminated against ownership, management and even journalists for passing along what is, in retrospect, obvious misinformation. How did it go so wrong?
On Friday, Chris Cotillo published a peek-behind-the-curtain interview with Chaim Bloom on MassLive during which the GM repeatedly claimed that he didn’t care how much shit he had to take (his words) to build a winning team. As an exercise in public relations on Bloom’s part, it was shockingly ineffective. It is hard not to read it and come to the conclusion that he cares a great deal about it — and he should!
Consider the Julian McWilliams Boston Globe piece filed from a gate at San Diego International Airport, where an apparently shell-shocked Bloom could hardly put the loss of Bogaerts into words. Given what we know about the Sox’s pitiful offer, Bogey’s departure can’t have come as a surprise. It’s more likely that the sheer magnitude of the 11-year, $280 million deal put in stark relief how far afield Bloom is from the peers with whom he’s competing, both those on other teams and the ones before him in Boston.
There can be obvious value in zigging when everyone zags, and Bloom has committed to the strategy of doing so at the cost of making himself the easiest target in the sport when things go wrong. Consider the $90 million (plus $15.4M posting fee) contract he handed out the same day of Bogaerts’ departure to Masataka Yoshida, which led to an extremely rare (albeit anonymous) consensus that the G.M. overpaid for someone. That said, I’d advise taking the sources in Kylie McDaniel’s ESPN article about it with a huge pile of salt; the uncertain nature of international free agency allows the losers to call the winners idiots in the absence of any real results, which won’t come until April, at which point it’ll all be resolved.
That said, Bloom is plainly using a different playbook than his competition. While I think it’s fair to say it hasn’t worked so far, I think the calls to clean house are premature. It’s still early December and there’s plenty of work left to do to fill out the 2023 roster, which could still be decent. My fear — and it is probably Bloom’s, as well — is that the coin-flip moves in which he specializes won’t pan out as well as hoped in 2023 and ownership will replace him right as his long-term plan comes to fruition.
If so, he will only have himself to blame. He’s trying to do too much, too fast, for most people, and he’s trying to do it all on his own. It’s a tall order. Every successful Red Sox GM since 2000 has built upon the good work of the one(s) before him and been rewarded for it. Dave Dombrowski won a World Series with star players inherited from Ben Cherington, who won a title with star players inherited from Theo Epstein, who won it all with star players inherited from Dan Duquette. It hardly matters whether the directive to clean house comes from John Henry or Bloom himself. He chose to go it alone, and now he’s alone.