Chief Baseball Officer of the Boston Red Sox Chaim Bloom had a rough 2022. Coming after a surprising ALCS run in 2021, Bloom had a curious off-season. First, free agent DH (and kind of first baseman? Maybe?) Kyle Schwarber walked and signed with the Phillies. Bloom then signed free agent SS Trevor Story, two mid-rotation pitchers in Rich Hill and Michael Wacha, and traded away RF Hunter Renfroe for old friend Jackie Bradley Jr. and two prospects. Okay. Weird, but sure.
2022 then came and went. It sucked. The Red Sox went 78-84 and the organization’s vibes were in the dirt. But now the 2022 off-season was here and Bloom could begin to right his wrongs. He started the meetings off by signing Japanese star Masataka Yoshida for 5 years. Okay! And then he elected to let Xander Bogaerts, the team’s longtime shortstop and face-of-the-franchise leave for San Diego! Oh. Right.
That was a bit of a hit, for sure. But Bloom powered through the rest of the off-season and signed closer Kenley Jansen, reliever Chris Martin, DH Justin Turner, CF Adam Duvall, and SP Corey Kluber. Bloom then capped off his run by signing 3B Rafael Devers to the largest contract in franchise history.
So here we are. One month into the 2023 season. The Red Sox are 17-14. An unremarkable record, but also, not a bad one. But let’s look a little closer. After a slow start, Bloom’s big acquisition in Masataka Yoshida is slashing .298/.391/.511 to the tune of a 145 OPS+. Kenley Jansen, another big piece of the off-season, looks like he’s 28 years old again. Another free agent signing, Adam Duvall, turned into Barry Bonds for the 8 games he played before fracturing his wrist. No, really. His OPS was 1.544.
But I want to take a look at another group of players. Three players that are leading the Red Sox in bWAR. Their names are Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Josh Winckowski. You may notice that all three of these men were acquired in trades by Bloom. Trades in which Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi went the other way. The Betts and Benintendi trades are perhaps two of Bloom’s most maligned moves as Red Sox CBO. But, more than three and two years after them, respectively, the moves are finally paying dividends.
Verdugo seems to have finally made the jump we’ve all been hoping for. He’s hitting .317 and somehow has three walk-off hits in just 31 games. No other player in baseball has more than one. Connor Wong leads all catchers with 7 Defensive Runs Saved and had the game of his life on May 2nd, going 4 for 4 with two home runs and a double. But Josh Winchoswki, who was not good in 2022, looks like a brand new man. It seems that moving to the bullpen has unlocked something in him, leading to a WHIP of 0.940 and a FIP of 3.23.
Chaim Bloom’s tenure as Red Sox CBO has been tumultuous, to say the least. But here in the early days of the 2023 season, we’re starting to see some results. We as fans often like to think we’re smarter than the people making decisions, and I’m no exception. Of course, there’s a lot of season left to go, but for the first time in a long time, I am really excited about the Boston Red Sox. And Chaim Bloom is to thank for that.