Boston Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said last month he expected Mookie Betts to be in Boston’s starting lineup on Opening Day.
That obviously won’t be the case, as the Red Sox traded Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday for Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.
So, what changed?
Well, according to Bloom, the Red Sox didn’t necessarily shop Betts, who is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season and figures to command a contract in excess of $300 million-$400 million on the open market. Instead, the organization approached the offseason with an open mind, expecting to keep Betts but also willing to engage any team that came forth with a competitive offer. The Dodgers ultimately satisfied the Red Sox’s asking price.
“I didn’t necessarily expect, just knowing he’s such a great player, so important to the franchise, that somebody was gonna meet that bar,” Bloom said Thursday on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” “And obviously everyone can come to their own judgments on whether what we got did meet that bar, but in our minds, we felt it was something we needed to do.”
Bloom acknowledged he “100 percent” understands Red Sox fans’ frustration over trading Betts, a four-time All-Star who has cemented himself as one of the best players in Major League Baseball. He’s tasked with building a sustainable contender, though, and trading Betts could help accomplish that goal in the long run, as crazy as that sounds on the surface.
The Red Sox gained future financial flexibility via the Betts blockbuster by virtue of getting under the $208 million luxury tax for 2020. Plus, Boston received an enticing package of young, controllable talent in exchange for a player who theoretically could walk in free agency next winter.
“Our job at the end of the day — hopefully for a long, long time — is we have to win as much as we can. And that isn’t just a 2020 thing. That applies in 2021, 2022 and beyond, and hopefully for the next five, 10 years, and hopefully beyond that,” Bloom said Thursday. “In order to do that, you need to really use your resources well, you need to maximize everything you have, and when you look around the game, it doesn’t matter what market size you’re in, what your resources are, if you don’t have a sustainable talent base at all levels of the organization — not just on your major league roster, but in your farm system; guys that you can grow with, waves of talent coming through. If you don’t have that, eventually it catches up to you, regardless of how much money you have. So that has to be a priority also. And so we have to weigh all those considerations.
“Obviously it’s tough. I know it’s tough. This may sound really hollow coming from me, I get that, because I’m new here, but I know what it feels like to be really attached to a player, and then to see that player wearing another uniform I really, fully understand that. It’s not that we, as an organization, don’t feel that as well, but our job at the end of the day is to say, ‘What path for us do we think is going to allow us to win the most over the next five to 10 years?’ and this we thought fit into that.”
Trading Betts obviously wasn’t a popular decision in Boston. But if nothing else, there was a method to Bloom’s madness.