Chaim Bloom will leave behind a complicated legacy in Boston.
Many people will remember him as the guy who traded away Mookie Betts. Others will remember him for dealing Christian Vazquez or Andrew Benintendi in attempts to revamp Boston’s heavily depleted farm. Some will remember him for the offseason moves he made, offering large contracts to the likes of Trevor Story while allowing Xander Bogaerts to leave for San Diego.
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Perhaps the moves that define Bloom’s tenure as chief baseball officer are the ones he could have made, but didn’t. At the 2022 MLB trade deadline, for instance, the Red Sox tried to thread the needle between buying and selling, not making many major splashes in either direction. In doing this, they held onto certain players that had significant interest from teams, including Nathan Eovaldi, J.D. Martinez. There was also a team interested in Chris Sale according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
“Per a major league source familiar with the situation, just before the 2022 trade deadline – and a few weeks after Chris Sale had broken his finger broken [sic] in his second outing of the season – a team approached Bloom about dealing for the lefty,” Bradford wrote on Thursday.
Sale’s talent was undeniable, but his reliability to the team was often in question due to his propensity to find himself on the injured list. He began the 2022 season recovering from a rib injury before making his debut in July, only to be knocked out with a line drive to the pinky finger two games later. A few weeks afterward, he broke his wrist in a bike accident, causing him to miss the remainder of that season.
Sale had success with the Red Sox prior to his injuries, posting a sub-3.-0 ERA in each of his first two seasons with the team and pitched well in 2021. Knowing how difficult of a decision it would be for the Red Sox to part with Sale, the mystery team added some additional sweeteners to incentivize Boston to let go. But the Red Sox still stood pat.
“The acquiring club was agreeing to take on all of the money left on Sale’s contract (2.5 seasons of more than $50 million), while sending some semblance of players,” Bradford wrote. “The Red Sox wanted better players than were offered and no deal was done.”
Sale signed a five-year, $145 million contract extension with the Red Sox in March of 2019, months before Bloom was hired. At the time, the deal was seen as a worthy investment for a star pitcher. But Sale has only played 53 games since he put pen to paper, and only 28 since the year his extension kicked in. This means that ever since his new contract went into effect, the Red Sox have paid him an average of $4.14 million every time he stepped onto the mound.
By the time this mystery trade was proposed, the Red Sox still owed Sale at least $55 million. That’s a lot of money for a team to take on, especially for the mystery team who asked to trade for Sale knowing his injury concern. But to the Red Sox, it wasn’t enough to make this move.
It wouldn’t be the only time the Red Sox’ asking price was too high. Reports surfaced that Bloom was “asking for the moon” in any negotiations involving Eovaldi, and the price for Martinez was “very high.”
In five years, it’s hard to know how much of Boston’s future success will have Bloom’s fingerprints on it. But it’s likely that Bloom is remembered a lot differently if he made some of the trades that he did not make.
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