As we all sit and wait to see how the Chaim Bloom tenure will unfold for the Red Sox, don’t be surprised if Boston makes a call or two to the desert during his first Boston winter.
Roster overhaul of an unknown magnitude seems all but certain this offseason for Bloom in his first few months as chief baseball officer for the Red Sox. How Bloom and Co. go about doing that remains to be seen, of course, and his propensity for speaking about the team’s offseason objectives in the vaguest of terms offers little in the way of hints.
So, we’re left to speculate, and given the glacial pace of recent baseball offseasons, we likely have plenty of time kick around ideas. The idea we’ll explore in this space is the notion that the Arizona Diamondbacks look like a perfect trade partner for Bloom and the Red Sox.
Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen on Wednesday spoke glowingly about Bloom, who he got to know after Hazen left Boston to take the GM job in Arizona. Hazen and Bloom — then working for the Tampa Bay Rays — conversed plenty, especially as the clubs worked together on a few deals dating back to the beginning of Hazen’s time in the desert.
“Then once you really split leagues, there’s a lot more conversation,” Hazen told reporters this week at the MLB general manager meetings, per The Athletic. “Even general conversation because there’s less direct competition so to speak. We just ended up doing a few deals together, he and I brokered most of those deals together, so you end up on the phone a lot and those conversations are more personal, ask about how kids are doing and things like that, just generally talk about baseball topics and so I had gotten to know him quite a bit through a lot of those phone calls.”
According to The Athletic, the Red Sox even reached out to Hazen — the club’s former general manager — to pick his brain about Bloom before plucking him from Tampa Bay. In fact, Bloom also reached out to Hazen to pick his brain about Boston. So there’s an obvious kinship between the two decision-makers, and it’s worth wondering whether that familiarity will act as a foundation for a deal between the two clubs.
Looking at the rosters, there also appears to be a fit. One of Bloom’s objectives in Boston will be to curtail spending (at least in the short term), but he’s also tasked with improving the team and still contending for championships. In order to do so, he almost certainly must improve the pitching staff. Obviously, adding quality pitching on short money is one of the most difficult tasks for a baseball executive, but that’s where Arizona might come in handy.
Tucked deep in a notes column earlier this week, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal points to the D-Backs as an “interesting team to watch” this winter.
“Rival clubs are inquiring about the D-Backs’ starting-pitching depth, and the positional flexibility of Eduardo Escobar, Ketel Marte and Josh Rojas gives the team the ability to upgrade at any position but first base,” Rosenthal wrote.
“I think we’re moving towards a little bit more flexibility to open up opportunities in the free-agent market and trade market,” Hazen recently said, per AZCentral.com. “I don’t think we’re all the way there yet, but we are moving in that general direction.”
It would certainly behoove the Red Sox to be among the teams inquiring about the Diamondbacks’ pitching.
Here are Arizona’s top starting pitchers (with WAR and reported contract details or salary arbitration projections via MLB Trade Rumors):
Merrill Kelly (2.0 WAR, $3 million — with club option for 2021)
Alex Young (0.6 WAR, pre-arb)
Luke Weaver (1.8 WAR, pre-arb)
Taijuan Walker (2.5 WAR in 2017 before injuries, $5.025 million)
Zac Gallen (0.8 WAR, pre-arb)
Robbie Ray (2.4 WAR, $10.8 million)
Mike Leake (-0.3 WAR, $15 million)
There are some very interesting options in there — most notably Kelly, Weaver and Gallen. But if other teams value those players, it stands to reason so do the Diamondbacks, especially given the players’ contract situations. But Arizona is in a spot where it has almost unlimited flexibility, and as Rosenthal notes, they could upgrade anywhere.
Hazen knows Boston’s roster as well as anyone outside the walls of Fenway Park, and the Diamondbacks’ interest in Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has been reported in past years. A player like Bradley certainly would be well-utilized in that spacious Arizona outfielder and would allow Marte to settle at second base, giving the Snakes terrific defense up the middle with two-time Gold Glove winner Nick Ahmed at shortstop.
But that’s just one potentially far-fetched theory, and these things tend to sometimes come out of nowhere.
Just don’t be surprised if Bloom and Hazen are discussing more than how the kids are doing when they chat this winter.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images