The Boston Red Sox early days of the Chaim Bloom administration give an insight into just what to expect. The next few months should be bargain hunting for Bloom.
The Red Sox news is and will be centered on payroll considerations as they attempt to shed payroll and be under the payroll driver known as the luxury tax. The first step in the process had nothing to do with the movement of labor (player) but a change in executive strategy with the hiring of Chaim Bloom to orchestrate just how the team will proceed with a monetary diet.
Bloom honed his baseball skills within the Tampa Bay organization working his way up the corporate ladder until the Red Sox beckoned. Tampa invariably was located in the lower reaches of team payroll during Bloom’s tenure with the organization.
Free agents were generally allowed to find employment elsewhere, drafting was reasonably successful, and trades and signings were made to find presentable talent when none was perceived to exist.
Bloom’s chore with Boston is to streamline the procurement process and to find risk/reward talent that just may give more rewards for the baseball dollar than expected. As we trudge into December it is starting to become apparent of the methodology that Bloom will bring to the operations side of things.
The first notable change is the collection of Red Sox free agents that the team has expressed little interest in retaining. Rick Porcello eventually signed with the New York Mets and the capable inning eater was deemed out of their current pricing structure. Porcello was not alone in veterans being shunted off the Fenway campground.
Steven Wright is gone – released and facing 2020 season-ending surgery. The savings may appear minimal – possibly $1.4M – but incremental accumulates and that means Sandy Leon. Leon was traded for a prospect – and a prospect that has as much chance at a sustainable MLB career as I do winning a Pulitzer. The savings could be $2.4M.
The Red Sox have pivoted to the lower end of the free-agent scale as Bloom and his evaluators look for that diamond in the rough. Colin Willis is a 27-year-old lefty-hitting outfielder who hit .302 for Gary (AAA) and will be in the inevitable outfield scrum if Jackie Bradley Jr.is traded or even Mookie Betts. A very minor transaction – like the signing of Daniel Nava.
The Red Sox shopping expedition has begun and unlike previous years it is more Wal-Mart and far less Tiffany’s. Once a highly-touted possible star of the future after hitting .288 for the 2018 Cincinnati Reds Jose Peraza became available. Younger and far cheaper than Brock Holt and another cost savings.
A replacement for Porcello inked a deal as lefty Martin Perez is now a Boston rotation possibility. Perez has four times notched 10+ victories in his eight-year MLB career primarily as a starter. Expect no comparisons to Lefty Grove or even Bruce Hurst, but at $6.25M and a 0.2 bWAR, you will not get a Madison Bumgarner clone.
Bloom has also dipped into the Rule-5 and taken infielder Jonathan Arauz a 21-year-old switch hitter expected to be at Portland (AA). Bloom also has expanded beyond the United States to Taiwan and signed right-handed, Chih-Jung Lui and the usual signings in the ever productive Caribbean market.
The roster is certainly a work in progress – if you wish to say what will happen represents progress. After Christian Vazquez, the catching situation remains unresolved but the unemployment line for backup catchers is rather bountiful this offseason – and better yet – cheap!
The game is won on the little bump and that may take a significant downturn if David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, and even Chris Sale leave in a payroll exodus. Price – quite surprisingly considering his $32M per year for three more seasons – may have become valuable elsewhere. If any of the three mentioned leaving the Fenway Park nest the staff may duplicate the 1930 Philadelphia Phillies (6.71 ERA).
This, however, is all moot at this point. Bloom’s recent moves are and should have been anticipated based on management directive. What will cement the 2020 season is the next few months on just how the Red Sox continue to jettison payroll and bring in replacement parts.