Bogaerts or not, Bloom optimistic for '23 team

December 7th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom remains hopeful that the team can reach an agreement with agent Scott Boras on a contract that would bring back into the fold.

But Bloom did not agree with the tail end of a comment Boras made during his annual Winter Meetings briefing with the media on Tuesday.

“The Red Sox, they kind of have four-star ownership,” said Boras. “These guys have proven over time that they win and they pursue winning. I think if there’s anybody, I think everyone around them understands the Sox without ‘X’ are so-so.”

While Bogaerts remains atop Boston’s offseason list, Bloom is determined to construct a winning team for 2023 no matter which team the shortstop winds up with.

“We think we’re going to be good,” said Bloom. “We hope it’s with Xander. We really do. If that doesn’t work out, we’re still intent on being a playoff-caliber team.”

If Bogaerts slips away, the Red Sox could move back to shortstop and look to acquire a second baseman. Jean Segura is an intriguing possibility on the free-agent market.

is also an option at short, in which case Story could remain at second, where he was tremendous last season, ranking in the 96th percentile for Outs Above Average.

Though nothing has come to fruition yet for Bloom in San Diego, the Red Sox are actively trying to improve in several areas via trade or free agency.

Here is a primer of areas the club is focusing on beyond Bogaerts.

Sights on Senga
Bloom and manager Alex Cora have both made it clear at the Winter Meetings that the Red Sox will add another starting pitcher. Another candidate came off the board on Tuesday when lefty Andrew Heaney agreed to terms with the Rangers. Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Wacha, key members of Boston’s rotation last year, are options to return via free agency.

But a splashier move would be to acquire righty Kodai Senga, a 29-year-old free agent who has had a dominant career in Japan.

MLB Network contributor Jon Heyman reports that the Red Sox are one of at least a handful of teams in the market for Senga.

“Yes, we have seen him. We are very familiar with him. The group that represents him, we have a really good relationship with. They have some players of ours,” said Bloom. “So we talk to them all the time. And yeah, he’s really talented.

“Our evaluators spent a lot of time over in [Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan’s highest level of competition] this year, and I think it kind of speaks for itself. Tremendous athlete with a tremendous power repertoire. Stuff that absolutely can compete against big league hitters.”

Upgrade at catcher
Catcher is a clear need, and , a right-handed bat with some pop, is on the trading block for the rebuilding Athletics.

“When it comes to players with other teams, I obviously can’t get into any of those guys specifically. It’s against the rules,” said Bloom. “The trade market is a real avenue for us to improve. The best offseason we can have is going to involve a mix of different avenues to acquire talent.”

played his whole career for the Red Sox until getting traded to the Astros in August. He is a free-agent option behind the plate. Is a Vázquez reunion something Boston would consider?

“Yes,” said Bloom.

Don’t forget Devers
Though star slugger is under contract for one more season, Boston remains focused on signing him to an extension. Is that issue on the back burner as Bloom pursues his many other offseason needs?

“It’s definitely not a back-burner topic for us,” said Bloom. “Again, as we’ve said, until there’s something done, none of what I say actually matters, but it’s definitely not a back-burner topic. Needless to say, when there are other things happening in the business -- really on both sides, both for clubs and agents -- it’s hard to buckle down on things that don’t have the same deadline, but we view this as a top-line, urgent item for us, even though it is not an open market and even though it’s not tied to any offseason deadline.”

Another reliever
Bloom has made some progress with his bullpen during the Hot Stove season, acquiring lefty and agreeing to terms on a deal with righty setup man , which is still pending the completion of a physical.

The Red Sox made a run at Tommy Kahnle, but the Yankees beat them out to the free-agent righty on Tuesday.

One marquee reliever still on the market is veteran closer Kenley Jansen. Bloom will continue to pursue relievers via trade and free agency.