Red Sox: Chaim Bloom’s offseason priorities listed in no particular order

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 02: David Price #10 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 02: David Price #10 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Chaim Bloom has an offseason agenda for the Boston Red Sox but he isn’t going to limit himself by placing his priorities in any particular order.

The Boston Red Sox have clear priorities this offseason but Chaim Bloom has no plans to address those needs in any particular order.

Rick Porcello‘s expected departure in free agency opens a spot in the rotation and the bevy of underwhelming internal options that were tested this year should encourage the Red Sox to search externally for a starting pitcher. Brandon Workman is capable of handling the closer role but a bullpen that struggled with consistency could use an upgrade to the bridge leading to the ninth inning. Boston may need an infielder, depending on which position they envision Michael Chavis playing and if Bobby Dalbec is deemed ready to fill the void at first base. The bench will need to be replenished, especially if the versatile Brock Holt departs in free agency.

All of these needs must be addressed while simultaneously trimming payroll in an effort to duck under the luxury tax threshold. If moving an expensive veteran is the path they take to financial freedom, Boston will need to find a replacement for their position, creating another hole.

Bloom has plenty of work to do during his first offseason at the helm of the Red Sox front office but he doesn’t want to limit himself by prioritizing any particular need over the others. According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Bloom spoke with the media at the GM Meetings in Arizona this week to discuss his plan.

"“I think it’s our job to create as many options as we can and to look at a lot of different paths for us to go forward,” said Bloom. “Just to make sure we are really surveying the landscape the best way to go forward and make the future of the Red Sox as good as it can be. So I think to put things in priority order would be limiting. Obviously, at some point, you start picking paths and that will maybe define some of what happens next. At this stage, no, I don’t think it makes sense to try to impose an order on the particular things we might be able to do.”"

It’s a sound strategy in the sense that Bloom doesn’t want to limit his options. A fluid list of priorities allows him to be flexible and remain open to any opportunity that comes along.

The question is whether or not the strategy is feasible with the number of holes that need to be filled while working on a tight budget.

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We know that the Red Sox won’t be in the market for any of the top-tier starting pitchers. However, perhaps they target a couple of mid-tier options such as Jake Odorizzi and Cole Hamels under the assumption that one of their high-priced starters will be moved to shed payroll, creating room to spread that money around to multiple open roster spots. What if they can’t unload one of those hefty contracts though? Then the Red Sox will be well over budget and could be forced into making a bad trade that doesn’t bring nearly enough in return due to their desperation to save money.

On the flip side of that theory, if Boston scrapes the bottom of the bargain bin for their fifth starter only to later find that they were able to free up significant salary with a trade, they may end up kicking themselves that they didn’t target a more reliable starting pitcher when they had the chance.

J.D. Martinez‘s decision to opt-in for next season adds another large salary to the payroll. The Red Sox could consider trading him but if that’s their plan, they’ll need to ensure they have a suitable cheaper replacement if they intend to contend next year. A Martinez trade creates a new hole that needs to be filled but also creates payroll flexibility that may enable them to make other moves.

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Boston’s payroll concerns limit what Bloom can do until he finds a way to clear room in the budget. A patient approach keeps his options open to some extent but the available free agents and trade partners will begin to dry up. There isn’t one specific priority that he absolutely needs to start with but Bloom does need to pick a path that allows the remaining priorities to fall into place sooner rather than later.