Bloom facing big decisions as Trade Deadline approaches

July 28th, 2022

BOSTON -- There are very few executives who have a trickier picture to decipher leading into Tuesday's Trade Deadline than Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

As Bloom held court with the media prior to Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to the Guardians at Fenway Park, all he had to do was take an easy glance at the scoreboard in left field for a reminder his team is in last place in the American League East.

He could also look at his team’s injured list for a reminder that Rafael Devers and Trevor Story should be back soon to boost the lineup, with Michael Wacha and Rich Hill not that far away from giving the rotation some reinforcements.

Then, there is the expanded playoff format for this season, which gives a lot of middling teams hope at this point, such as the 49-50 Red Sox, who are 4 1/2 games out in the quest for a Wild Card spot after losing 11 of 13 and 15 of the past 19.

The Red Sox looked in position to win on Wednesday, riding two Bobby Dalbec homers to a 6-5 lead. But three errors by first baseman Franchy Cordero and a go-ahead homer by Cleveland's Josh Naylor in the top of the ninth off Tanner Houck led to yet more frustration in Boston.

“So look, we would be silly to try to pretend that the scoreboard doesn’t exist,” said Bloom, prior to the game. “We’re not too happy with how it looks right now. We have to factor that in. But I think to really dictate the course of an organization over a handful of games usually is not the right course [of action], so we’re going to factor in obviously where we are."

In other words, Bloom and the Red Sox are, in a sense, “tweeners” in that age-old buyer/seller dilemma that will hover over the club until Tuesday.

“I don’t really like the label of buy or sell. In theory, any move you make you’re doing both regardless of where you are,” said Bloom.

Though they might sell some pieces with expiring contracts (J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Christian Vázquez, Kiké Hernández, Wacha, Hill) if the right offer comes along, it won’t be the two biggest ones.

For the second straight day, Bloom indicated he has no interest in trading Xander Bogaerts (opt-out at end of season) or Devers (free agent after ‘23), the two All-Star cornerstones on the left side of the infield.

“Yeah, I look at what we’re trying to accomplish and just the stature that those guys have, not just for our fans, but also for what it means for what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Bloom. “I know it’s hard at this time of year, but I’m at least trying to at least minimize whatever potential distraction [Bogaerts, Devers trade rumors] can cause. So I’ve just said the truth, that we hadn’t discussed them with anyone and we’re not planning on it.”

Given their wild inconsistency this season, this isn't an "all-in" trade season for the Red Sox, who dipped below .500 on Wednesday for the first time since June 4.

But that doesn’t mean Bloom can’t make a modest upgrade or two in hopes that the club can get healthy and consistent.

That would require Bloom believing that his team is a contender. Does he believe that?

“Yeah,” said Bloom. “Obviously, we haven’t played well lately. We’ve been banged up and we haven’t been playing well. I do think we have a good team. I think we have a very talented team. It’s not a perfect club. No question. At times, we haven’t played as well as we could. At times, some of the ways that games have played out, especially early in the season, have kind of exposed some of the imperfections on our club. But I’d stack our talent up against just about any team in the league.”

To start June, the Red Sox went on a 19-4 tear and everything (aside from catching the Yankees in the AL East) seemed possible.

But then came July, which was a big-time regression complicated by injuries to key players.

“I know the last few weeks are what they are,” said Bloom. “We’re not in a very good spot. There was a point, in late May or early June, when it looked like it was going to separate and really break into the haves and have-nots, and then it all tightened up again. We have not played the way we need to play to be in a playoff spot right now, and we’re not.

“We’re still hopefully getting closer and closer to full strength, and if we play well and we play clean baseball, we can win.”