Preseason grades for Bloom and Red Sox 2021

(Photo: Jim Davis / Globe  Staff)
Eric D. Schabell

Contributing Writer

 Chief Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom has been at the helm of the Red Sox for just over 16 months now. He's coming from a completely different mind set of small market, cost effective, limited budget, and maximize returns on players over winning at the Tampa Bay Rays. 

 At the Boston Red Sox the budget is hovering for years at or over the luxury tax threshold, winning is the goal every single season, cost is not always the obvious motivator, and returns on players are not nearly as important as playing in the postseason every year. 

 The question is, did anyone tell Bloom that he's got a new employer and expectations are truly different in Boston? 

 Was he given the helm of the Red Sox with a limited budget, a desire to ignore the run for postseason baseball, and try and maximize the return on departing players above all else? 

 It sure looks like it so far. 

  Peter Abraham sums it up nicely when he outlines that Bloom has traded Mookie Betts, David Price, Mitch Moreland, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, and now Andrew Benintendi within the last calendar year. Furthermore, Jackie Bradley Jr has walked as a free agent and Dustin Pedroia has retired. 

 The Benintendi trade put the final of the three B's (the outfield nickname given to BradleyBenintendi, and Betts) out to pasture as Bradley as walked as a free agent this year. The return has been salary reduction to the payroll, minor league talent, and just one player from the Betts trade that's a starting major league player in outfielder Alex Verdugo

What else has Bloom been doing to shore up the rotation, supplement an empty outfield, fix the issue of second base, and filling up the farm system as that's what Bloom knows from his time at the Rays. 

 Let's look at the moves so far for the Red Sox.

Acquisitions any help?

Looking at the action from the end of the 2020 season, Bloom as emptied the outfield for the Red Sox and the return was from the Padres in the form of Franchy Cordero and possibly splitting time between three newly inked free agents; Astros utility man Marwin Gonzalez, Dodger utility man Enrique Hernandez, and Rays outfielder Hunter Renfroe

 Cordero is a power hitting outfielder that the Padres absolutely loved in the beginning of his career, until he become a frequent member of the disabled list the last few seasons. The challenge and hope is that the Red Sox can figure out how to keep him healthy and on the field, while JD Martinez mentors him in hitting. If the Red Sox can recapture any of the massive power he's shown in the past it will play extremely well in Fenway. 

 Ideally Renfroe would hold down the last outfield spot with Gonzalez and Hernandez splitting time around the diamond at second base and the outfield. 

 For the long suffering rotation Bloom pulled back in Martin Perez, traded the Yankees for Adam Ottavino, and spent big on starter Garrett Richards who was a free agent from the Padres. He also added veteran Matt Andriese as depth and bullpen help. 

The question is will it fix on the the worst rotations in the majors last year? 

 Chris Sale is still on the road back from Tommy John surgery, but should be back by early summer. The plan seems to be Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo RodriguezRichards, and Perez in the top four spots. It's up for grabs who's going to own the fifth spot, but it's a good bet Bloom is all in on the bullpen game.

Trade noise?

While much of the action for Bloom and the Red Sox seems to be done with only $4.2M and change left in the budget while staying below the luxury tax, there are a few trade rumors still being floated around.
It appears that there is some interest in bring back free agent Workman and some noise around Travis Shaw who last played for the Red Sox in 2016. Shaw slashed .239/.306/.411 in 180 plate appearances with the Blue Jays last season and Workman has not been offered a deal by the Phillies after last season. 

 Another disturbing bit of news is that the Angles have been sniffing around the availability of Christian Vázquez

  "The asking price for Vasquez, 30, is said to be very high and there are doubts whether the Red Sox will entertain trading him. He is an above-average defender with an emerging offensive game, hitting 30 home runs in his last 185 games and slashing .283/.344/.457 last season." 

 One would hope that the Red Sox don't let Vázquez go at any price. 

 So how does this leave us feeling about the Red Sox in 2021?

Grading out

The predictions coming out just before Spring Training kicks off have got to have you both depressed and shaking your head as a Red Sox fan.
Boston is not used to small market tactics that Bloom appears to be continuing from his tenure in Tampa Bay, which means you can expect more of the same turnover in the roster if they can bring back good (farm) returns

 As for grading out the offseason work done so far, there are a few aspects to look at. Starting by looking at keeping the team below the luxury tax threshold, Bloom grades exceptionally well. For getting good returns from superstars like Betts it would be a mediocre grade. If you look at the free agents above used to patch out the holes in the rotation, outfield, and utility positions, one would have to say that he's again kept well in line with his small market philosophy. That's not the Boston mentality nor market he's playing too and the grade can only be unsatisfactory so far. 

 As a Red Sox fan you can't be happy with Bloom and the current position the Red Sox are in. Winning 80-82 games is a non-starter target for this franchise. It's hard to buy the rhetoric from Perez after signing with the Red Sox. 

  “It’s going to be a fun year for us as a team and for the fans.” 

 Maybe his definition of fun is different but don't you want a team with a chance to head into the postseason? 

 Post a comment or via twitter @erics_redsox with your thoughts.