Sox offer few hints on status of skipper search

'I think it’s best for everybody if it stays private,' Bloom says

January 24th, 2020

BOSTON -- The Mets hired their new manager in Luis Rojas. The Astros are deep into the interview process.

But what about the third team that suddenly found itself needing a new manager as a result of last week’s report from Commissioner Rob Manfred on the sign-stealing scandal of the Houston Astros?

That, of course, would be the Red Sox. Their process for replacing Alex Cora remains one of intrigue -- in large part because chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom doesn’t think it’s in the organization’s best interest to be public about the search.

“Don’t have a whole lot to share on that,” said Bloom. “Obviously it’s an enormous organizational priority, but for a number of reasons, I think as we work through that process, we’ll keep any developments private.”

Have the Red Sox interviewed anyone?

“I don’t even want to get into it,” said Bloom. “I think it’s best for everybody if it stays private until we have something to share.”

In other words, you might not hear much about Cora’s potential successor until the Red Sox actually decide who it is.

Keep in mind that the organization took a very similar tact when it came to replacing president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. After a search of several weeks that yielded hardly any good rumors, word didn’t leak of Boston’s interest in Bloom until he was just about hired.

Obviously this issue is more time sensitive, given that Spring Training is set to start on Feb. 12.

“I stand by everything I said at our press conference [last week], that speed is important because of the unusual timing of this, but we want to make sure we’re not going faster than we should in order to get the best outcome,” said Bloom.

How about the sign-stealing investigation Manfred is in the process of conducting on the 2018 Red Sox? Could it have a direct correlation on the timing Bloom and the Sox have of naming a new manager?

“Given that we don’t really know exactly when that process is going to wrap up, it’s not something we’re trying to connect with this,” said Bloom. “Obviously, it’s a really important process. The findings will be really important. But it’s not something we can control other than facilitating it fully.”

Common logic could dictate that the Red Sox -- if they are to hire an internal candidate -- might wait until the investigation wraps up to hire a manager in the event that one of those candidates is implicated in any wrongdoing from 2018.

But Bloom didn’t seem to be worried about that. Might the Sox name their next manager before Manfred releases his report?

“Yeah, that could happen,” Bloom said.

Can Bloom at least guarantee that the Sox will have a new manager by the time Spring Training starts?

“It would be ideal,” Bloom said. “But it’s not something … just depending on how things unfold, if it doesn’t happen, it’s because in our judgement it makes more sense to get the best outcome. But it would certainly be ideal. Nobody wants to be at this point in the year without a manager. So it would become even more important when we get to Spring Training.”

Deals still possible before Spring Training

Though it’s getting late in the offseason and Bloom has yet to achieve ownership’s goal of getting the payroll below the luxury-tax threshold of $208 million, the executive is confident there is still time.

“I’m not saying this to … there’s nothing I’m hinting or trying to imply but the short answer is yeah,” Bloom said. “Sometimes the action happens early, some years it happens late. Obviously closer to Spring Training there are practical hurdles. You want to feel like you have time for the impact of anything to settle. But I’ve been around deals that happened very late and there’s certainly still time. But I don’t say that to indicate anything one way or the other, just to answer your question.”

Superstar right fielder Mookie Betts, entering the final season of his contract, has been discussed in trade rumors throughout the winter. However, Bloom maintained last week he expects Betts will be with the Sox on Opening Day. Nothing appears to have changed since then, though The Athletic did report that there have been discussions between the Sox and Padres regarding Betts in a possible swap for Wil Myers and top prospects. The Athletic, citing sources, reported the trade was “unlikely”.

It seems more likely the Sox would try to deal a high-priced starting pitcher like David Price or Nathan Eovaldi and perhaps center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

Pedroia news ‘tough to hear’

The Red Sox are still in a holding pattern regarding Dustin Pedroia, who suffered another significant setback a few days ago and is uncertain to be a participant in Spring Training.

“Obviously, it’s tough news to hear because of everything he’s already battled through, everything he continues to battle through,” said Bloom. “You guys know him and the type of competitor he is, how much he loves to play. You can imagine how he would feel about a setback like this. It’s not an easy thing to work through. If anybody can work through this, it’s going to be Dustin, but he’s obviously still, with our help, trying to get his arms around what comes next.”

It isn’t hard to picture Pedroia moving into some sort of coaching or advisory role with the Red Sox once he decides for sure he’s done playing.

“I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions on his playing career at this point,” said Bloom. “But he is and always has been someone that has earned the right to be an influence on the organization, part of the organization, for life. So I think everybody shares that estimation of him here.”