Red Sox fire Chaim Bloom

The Boston Red Sox parted ways with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on Thursday, ending a tenure just shy of four mostly uninspiring seasons that included one playoff appearance and left the organization without a discernible direction. The announcement came an hour before the first pitch of a doubleheader with the New York Yankees, the rare September series between storied division rivals played with both teams well out of contention.

The Red Sox actually owned a winning record at the time of the announcement, a 73-72 mark that left them tied with the Yankees for last place in the grueling American League East. That record qualified as something of a pleasant surprise for a team that has been puzzlingly tentative in recent offseasons, seemingly unable or unwilling to pounce on the kind of superstars that might have vaulted it back into credible contention. But the Red Sox are not supposed to be pleasantly surprised by mediocrity, and Bloom had not proved he could deliver better.

“While parting ways is not taken lightly, today signals a new direction for our club,” Red Sox owner John Henry said in a statement. “Our organization has significant expectations on the field and while Chaim’s efforts in revitalizing our baseball infrastructure have helped set the stage for the future, we will today begin a search for new leadership. Everyone who knows Chaim has a deep appreciation and respect for the kind of person he is. His time with us will always be marked by his professionalism, integrity, and an unwavering respect for our club and its legacy.”

Bloom’s Boston legacy will be defined by one of the first acts of his tenure: trading superstar Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in what amounted to a salary dump. The Red Sox got three players back in the deal, one of whom, Jeter Downs, has since been released and another of whom, Connor Wong, has split time behind the plate. The centerpiece of that deal, Alex Verdugo, has been a solid corner outfielder but something of an unreliable clubhouse presence and has yet to provide the production Boston hoped.

That move was the most aggressive of an otherwise tentative tenure. The Red Sox did not exactly commit to a rebuild in the years after the Betts trade and in fact had enough talent to make a push to the AL Championship Series in 2021. But the Red Sox finished last in two (and maybe three) of his four seasons, rebuild-like results that have only recently been accompanied by an improved minor league system: Baseball America listed the Red Sox system fifth in their midseason rankings, which came out in August.

This past offseason, Bloom and his staff seemed stunned when homegrown star Xander Bogaerts fled to the San Diego Padres, a deal that all but forced them to sign third baseman Rafael Devers to a massive extension without much negotiating leverage, lest they let another player from their 2018 championship team get away. And in a winter that afforded them a chance to pursue any number of elite shortstops to replace or even pair with Bogaerts before he left, the Red Sox did not bite on any of those big names, instead signing Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida to a five-year deal. In fairness, that deal appears to be a solid move: Yoshida entered play Thursday hitting .291 with an .800 OPS in his first major league season.

But despite having a top-10 payroll in every one of Bloom’s seasons but this one, the Red Sox never seemed to be getting much buzz for their buck. They entered this season hoping to be relevant as young players developed, and seemed likely to enter next season in a similar place. And they do so in a division that is evolving around them: The Baltimore Orioles look ready to be a powerhouse for years to come, the Tampa Bay Rays continue to win, the Toronto Blue Jays continue to spend and the Yankees get ready to retool.

Bloom made a name for himself in that division, helping steer the Rays’ baseball operations from 2014 until he left for the Red Sox after the 2019 season. Former Rays employees, even those who struggle elsewhere, are generally coveted commodities in baseball front offices. Bloom seems likely to find his way into another front office somewhere. But it will not be in Boston, where the Red Sox are arguably a less formidable on-field franchise now than when he arrived.

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