Red Sox CBO Chaim Bloom under pressure at MLB Winter Meetings


SAN DIEGO — Here at baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, it doesn’t take long to understand the hottest issues on the table.

The Yankees’ pursuit of Aaron Judge is clearly No. 1.

But No. 2? Pressure. Pressure on the Mets to replace Jacob deGrom and continue the upward trajectory the franchise has been striving for. Pressure on the Angels not to waste another year of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout on the same roster.

And pressure on Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to pull the Sox out of the cellar in the American League East.

If this is Bloom’s worst offseason, it could be his last.

It’s hard to imagine another wasted season will be enough to give Bloom more time as the lead architect of the world’s 30th-most valuable sports franchise, a club worth almost $4 billion according to Forbes’ annual report that came out in September.

It comes down to winning, or, at the very least, developing a perception that the team is trending upwards towards winning in the near future.

The United States are witnessing that in the World Cup. The U.S. Men’s National Team came into the tournament with moderate to low expectations and barely met them, but they had the youngest roster in the 32-team field, showed flashes of brilliance and clear improvement while making it easy for fans to see the upward trajectory needed to get excited about 2026.

The U.S. finished in 16th place, and yet most fans would probably say they’re satisfied with what they saw.

The Red Sox, however, aren’t winning in the present, nor have they painted a picture of how they’re going to win in the near future.

Context is important, and Bloom inherited an imperfect situation in 2019, when he took over for Dave Dombrowski and was tasked with decreasing payroll, trading one of the best players in franchise history and trying to rebuild a depleted farm system while lowering costs for an owner who wanted to go in a new direction.

That matters to John Henry, who signs the paychecks and will ultimately decide Bloom’s fate.

But context from 2019 is not enough to quench the thirst of the fanbase, which endured a painful and embarrassing product on the field in 2020, were treated to an entertaining roller coaster ride to the American League Championship Series in 2021 but were again disappointed by a repetitive team that put the fans to sleep in 2022.

And it’s the lack of an easily-identifiable direction that makes it too easy for folks to get frustrated by other things, like raising ticket prices, Henry’s diverted interest in other sports franchises and, most importantly, the lowball contract offers to Xander Bogaerts and the failure (thus far) to sign Rafael Devers past 2023.

It’s why the fans didn’t even bother showing up to the final homestand of the season, when a half-empty stadium watched as the franchise’s longest-tenured shortstop waved goodbye.

The Red Sox might feel good about what’s going on under the hood, but that means very little to those who support them.

In this year’s annual New England Sports Survey done by Channel Media and Market Research, fans were asked which Boston sports team’s leadership has done the best job in the most recent season. Bloom finished in last place with 5% of the vote.

When fans were asked to judge Bloom’s performance on a scale of 1 to 7, only 10% gave him one of the top two grades while 73% of them gave him a 4 or lower.

Asked if they have complete faith in Bloom as a leader, 15% of fans answered with a 6 or 7, while 70% answered with a 4 or lower.

It’s hard to get passing grades as a sports GM, and that’s why most don’t have long lifespans. The Brian Cashmans of the world are far and few between. Most, even future Hall of Famers like Dombrowski, only get a few years to make their mark.

Thus far, Bloom’s biggest mark was taking an underwhelming roster to the ALCS in 2021. And manager Alex Cora seems to have gotten most of the credit for managing an imperfect roster through some difficult challenges.

This winter is Bloom’s chance to shine.

It’s hard to remember a more important offseason than this one. The Red Sox have their lowest payroll in almost a decade. If they want to spend money, they can. And history says they will.

It’s how they spend it that is of most interest.

Would fans rather see Bogaerts and Devers sign long-term contracts but the team continue on a mediocre path? Or see Bloom reshape the entire roster with a chance at being more competitive?

Somewhere in the middle, most likely, and that’s where Bloom and Co. have their hands full.

Free agency began with oodles of top-tier talent like Judge, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, deGrom (who just signed with the Rangers), Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon and Brandon Nimmo.

Most winters, only two or three guys of that caliber are available.

There are big names on the trade market, too, with Jorge Lopez, Bryan Reynolds and Sean Murphy on the horizons of changing teams.

Bloom is already under fire from some fans based on a Sunday Globe report that the Red Sox have not yet made a competitive offer to retain Bogaerts. Bloom chose not to respond to the report when reached by the Herald, though he is scheduled to speak to reporters in San Diego on Monday.

He has the payroll flexibility, he has prospects and he has a blank slate to build the next great Red Sox roster in a multitude of ways.

It’s time for him to make his mark.

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