By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
As the Red Sox report to Spring Training, the cloud of the Mookie Betts trade still hangs heavy over the organization. Monday evening, fans and media got to hear from the man who made it happen for the first time, new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
It’s been a rough start for Bloom, who has had to take part in two intense press conferences less than a month apart. One back on January 15 answering for the ‘mutual’ parting of ways with successful and fan-favorite manager Alex Cora amid a major cheating scandal, and the other on Monday to answer for the Betts trade.
“This trade is a very hard one to make,” Bloom told reporters, sitting down with the media for the first time in Fort Myers. “But our mission, our charge as a department, is to compete consistently year in and year out and to put ourselves in position to win as many championships as we can.”
Unlike how some members of Red Sox ownership have come off during this saga, Bloom seemed to recognize the gravity of the move he was tasked with making.
"I think in this case, as difficult as it was and as difficult as it continues to be emotionally, we felt that where this trade positions us in terms of the big picture and in terms of our long term future was a large enough step forward that despite it being difficult it was something we needed to do.”
The narrative of ‘planning for the future’ has been a popular defense from supporters of trading Betts since before the deal went down, and now it appears the team will adopt that stance as well.
“We felt, knowing how great a player Mookie is, knowing how important he’s been to us, that it had to be a high bar for us to consider moving him,” Bloom said of the 2018 AL MVP. “In terms of the impact of the talent return that we got, the impact that that return could have on our future and and the flexibility that it allows us to build around it, this return met that bar.”
There’s been conflicting reports about whether or not the Red Sox actually tried to extend Betts in the months leading up to the trade. While Bloom was noncommittal as to whether or not those talks actually took place, he did seem to hint Betts’ price was not worth the benefit for the Red Sox.
“We certainly considered all of our options. We had said for much of this offseason that our expectation was that he would be with us this year. I don’t think it’s appropriate to get into whether or when we had any contract negotiations with Mookie or any player. But I will say this generally, I think when you have a start player that’s approaching free agency, you know that it’s going to take a sizable commitment to keep him here. Those commitments obviously have a lot of positives, and they also have risks. I think you have to assess the positives and the risks of that in the context of the larger picture of what you’re trying to accomplish and how you feel it’s going to impact that goal of trying to compete and win as much as we can over the course of that time. And in the end, we felt what this move was able to do for us towards that goal was the most impactful positive path for us.”
Late in the day on Saturday, when the potential trade was hanging on by a string, a report from the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal indicated the Red Sox may have been reconsidering the deal after negative reactions from fans and media.
“It was very clear to us that this move would come with a lot of fan backlash,” Bloom fired back when asked about that report. “I think we had to prioritize what we thought was right in the big picture for the Red Sox over the fan reaction. It certainly did not catch us off-guard. We know how much, we know the type of player Mookie is, we know how much he matters to our fans. We knew it would hurt. And it’s going to hurt for a little while. But again, the big picture was our biggest priority.”
While the Mookie Betts trade continues to fester in the minds of fans, the reality is there may not be closure for a few years until all three players are playing and contributing in the big leagues. And while ‘the big picture’ is a nice thought, the immediate picture is a team reporting to Spring Training without a manager and having just traded its star player.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected]