Bloom doesn't tip hand about plans for Betts

Martinez's future also uncertain as new baseball chief arrives

October 28th, 2019

BOSTON – Welcome to Boston, Chaim Bloom. Now it’s time to get cracking on helping to determine the futures of stars and .

The thirsty Boston media wanted answers Monday at the very outset of Bloom’s introductory press conference as chief of baseball operations.

But Bloom isn’t making those decisions rashly. He will spend a couple of days learning the ins and outs of the organization.

Martinez has an opt-out clause in his contract he must exercise within five days of the end of the World Series if he wants to become a free agent. It remains to be seen whether there will be a robust market in free agency for a DH-only player who just turned 32 years old, and that will be the determining factor in Martinez’s decision.

The situation with Betts is more complex. He is entering the walk year of his contract and has steadfastly said he plans to get to free agency rather than sign an extension with the Red Sox.

Bloom didn't make any definitive comments Monday on the status of Betts and Martinez as he joins the Red Sox, but he noted that the team would emphasize long-term sustainability in the moves it makes. That seems to suggest that a Betts trade shouldn’t be ruled out as a possibility.

"I would say generally, our top priority is going to be sustainability and competitiveness over the long term," Bloom said. "And that could take many forms, but that's really going to be the top priority as we think about moves. With respect to those two guys, I'm just coming in here and there's a lot that I don't know, and I'm looking forward to building relationships with them and learning a little bit more about them from everybody here."

Ownership has stated it would like to trim payroll from the $240 million it was at last season to below the first luxury tax threshold of $208 million for 2020.

With $79 million committed to three starting pitchers, it might be difficult to stay below the threshold with both Martinez and Betts, who will get a considerable bump in the arbitration process from the $20 million he made in 2019.

"As we've said, we think [Betts is] one of the great players in baseball, and we would, in a perfect world, like to figure out a way for him to continue to be a player for us for his career," Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. "But he had the right to test free agency. We've had conversations with him in the past, and Chaim and his group will lead conversations going forward."

Red Sox owner John Henry said, "I would say that we talked about that there are a lot of tough decisions to make this offseason. And that's not uncommon during offseasons. But there are some significant decisions -- that aren't all in our hands, obviously. [Martinez] is not our decision to make, but it will impact us. There was more of a general discussion -- we talked about Mookie, J.D., other issues. But we didn't focus on 'What should we do?' Because you're going to be looking at a number of factors, including where Mookie wants to play for the long term."

Asked about Betts specifically, Bloom again didn't want to get into the details, but he confirmed that the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player Award winner was discussed during his interview process with the Red Sox.

"With respect to Mookie, without getting into too much detail, there was a wide variety of things we discussed during the interview process," Bloom said. "I'm still trying to learn, and there's a lot of things I don't know about potential options for the direction of the roster. So it would be premature of me to say anything other than that we're going to look thoroughly at all of our options."

Obviously, the decision the club makes on Betts will have a big impact on how manager Alex Cora will piece together his lineup going forward.

“He’s a guy that is a complete player,” Cora said, “and also a complete person. Obviously, he’s a game changer. But at the same time, he’s a franchise player. We know that. But at the same time, obviously, those conversations are going to come up, not only with the organization and the front office and ownership, but with the player.

“From my end, I’m the manager. If they ask me questions about Mookie, obviously, I’m going to give my best view of the situation, what I think about the player, and then after that, let’s see what happens.”