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Tracking the Red Sox’ three-year roster turnover under Chaim Bloom

Tracking the Red Sox’ three-year roster turnover under Chaim Bloom

Chaim Blum took control Red Sox baseball operations October 28, 2019 Two days later, the World Series ended. The day after that, Rick Porcello, Mitch Moreland and Brock Holt became automatic free agents, and Bloom made his first addition: making Josh Osich off waivers.

It was the beginning of an almost complete transformation of the Red Sox roster.

In just over three years, Bloom claimed 22 players off waivers, acquired 25 major league players via trade, and signed 24 players (including Martin Perez twice). Another half dozen minor league free agents (Rob Refsnyder, Hansel Robles, etc.) became significant major league players, and four Rule 5 picks (two from the minor league Rule 5) also spent time on the major league roster. Blum’s subtractions were as notable as his additions. Mookie Betts traded away. Xander Bogarts lost to free will. Jackie Bradley Jr. was allowed to leave, then reacquired, then released.

After Bogarts’ stunning departure to San Diego, we take a look back at the roster Bloom inherited and how it’s changed on his watch

Homestead plot

The Red Sox infield

Then

now

Position

Raphael Devers

Raphael Devers

3B

Xander Bogarts

Trevor’s story

SS

Dustin Pedroia

Christian Arroyo

2b

Michael Chavis

Tristan’s house

1B

Christian Vasquez

Reese McGuire

S

We’ll lump the catcher into this group because he fits in pretty neatly. As of November 2019, the Red Sox have controlled their homegrown shortstop and homegrown catcher for three years. Their star young third baseman was signed for at least four years.

Today, two out of three are gone Raphael Devers still doesn’t have a long-term deal.

The right side of the infield was much less settled when Blum took over. Moreland, Holt and Eduardo Nunes were free agents. The Red Sox had Michael Chavis, but he didn’t hit much after a terrific first month in the big leagues. Dustin Pedroia hasn’t given up hope of playing again, but his future is murky at best (he suffered a two-month setback that killed any remaining hope of a comeback). We may not have included him on our “back then” list, but outside of Pedroia, the top of the second base depth chart was either the non-standard Chavis or the utility options of Tzu-Wei Lin and Marco Hernandez. There was a farming system Bobby Dahlbeck on the border and Tristan’s house on the approach (he was an A in 2019), but the most advanced middle infield prospect in the system was CJ Chatham.

Bloom eventually re-signed Moreland before turning over first base primarily to Dulbecco in the second half of 2020. He plugged the hole at second base by first signing Jose Peraza (which didn’t quite work out) and then by demanding Christian Arroyo from giving up (which was much more successful), and finally giving Trevor’s story a huge deal. The Red Sox had hoped to keep Story at second base with Arroyo on the bench, but without Bogarts, they may have to move Story to shortstop and go back to using Arroyo as a semi-regular.

Outfield

Red Sox on the field

Then now Position

Mookie Betts

Alex Verdugo

RF

Jackie Bradley Jr

Quique Hernandez

CF

Andrei Benintendi

Masataka Yoshida

LF

J. D. Martinez

Eric Hosmer

DH

We’ll combine designated hitter here because J.D. Martinez was primarily a DH and fourth outfielder when Bloom took over, and now the DH spot is actually wide open (we’ll list Eric Hosmer not really expecting it to stay that way).

Clearly, this is where Bloom did the most to assemble the roster, a process that began in earnest with the Betts trade that led to his trade to Alex Verdugo. Even if we doubt it and say it Quique Hernandez it’s a bradley update and all that Masataka Yoshida could have an overall impact vaguely similar to Andrew Benintendi, losing Betts makes the overall picture a clear downgrade. The Red Sox seemed to know that would be the case when they traded him. Verdugo was solid, but he didn’t live up to what he thought was a plus. The Red Sox found tremendous value in the signing Hunter Renfro in Blum’s sophomore year, but when they tried to sell high on Renfroe, the returns were – at least so far – staggering.

Bench

The Red Sox bench

Then now Position

Sandy Leon

Connor Wong

S

Sam Travis

Bobby Dahlbeck

1B/3B

Zi-Wei Lin

Hoi Park

2B/SS

Marcus Wilson

Rob Refsnyder

OF

We’ll include the bench because Bloom has often talked about the lack of depth he inherited. The farm system had advantages in the lower levels but didn’t come close to the big leagues, and the existing bench was mostly a group of non-tendered and DFA candidates. Marcus Wilson is listed here as the fourth outfielder because there really wasn’t another next outfielder in the system and at least Wilson was on the 40 man.

In Triple-A, Dulbecco, Wilson, Chatham and Jarren Duran when Blum took control, but the rest of that roster — at least at the position — had to be filled with organizational players and minor league free agents.

Bloom has been quite active in trying to fix this depth problem with pickups like Arroyo, Refsnyder, Connor Wong and Hoi Park. Next year’s Triple-A roster could have a Bloom addition Emmanuel Valdez, David HamiltonChristian Kos, Ronaldo Hernandez and Villiers Abreu just waiting for a draft opportunity. Depth doesn’t move the needle much, but it’s been in the spotlight in recent years.

Rotation

Red Sox rotation

Then now

Chris Sale

Chris Sale

Eduardo Rodriguez

Nick Pivetta

Nathan Evaldi

Gareth Whitlock

David Price

Brian Bello

Hector Velasquez

James Paxton

Brian Johnson

Josh Winkowski

Blum inherited a rotation that had largely fallen apart. After a few months, Chris Sale surgery required Eduardo Rodriguez there was COVID-19, David Price was traded, Hector Velasquez was waived, and Brian Johnson was released. We really don’t need to rethink the 2020 rotation, do we? The lack of top-level rotation depth was evident that season.

But Blum inherited Tanner Hauck as a borderline starting pitcher, p Brian Mata is not far behind him in Double-A (of course, Mata was also hurt, which delayed his promotion to the big leagues).

To bridge the gap between then and now, Bloom acquired and signed a ton of rookies, and the additions seemed to get better every year (from Zach Godley to Garrett Richards to Michael Vacchi). He signed Martin Perez twice, but then didn’t sign him the year he became an All-Star. It is difficult to predict that he will come.

The current rotation depth chart is a mix of organizational holdovers (Sale, Hawk, Brian BelloBrian Mata, Cather Crawford) and guys acquired specifically to add depth with maybe some upside (Nick Pivetta, Gareth Whitlock, James Paxton, Josh Winkowski, Connor Siebold). Aside from the extension with Whitlock, Bloom has yet to fully commit to a starting pitcher on a multi-year deal.

bullpen

Red Sox bullpen

Then now

Brandon Workman

Kenley Jansen

Heath Hembree

Chris Martin

Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes

Marcus Walden

John Schreiber

Colten Brewer

Tanner Hauck

Ryan Brassier

Ryan Brassier

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Darvinzon Hernandez

Joel Rodriguez

Ryan Weber

Cather Crawford

Let’s get this straight: It’s not like a bunch of outfielders became free agents after the 2019 season. This “then” list is mostly the 2019 bullpen with Workman as the herd closer and Walden throwing more innings than any other outfielder. It’s been a strange year with inconsistent results.

However, Blum hasn’t done much to add to that bullpen in his first three years. He extended Barnes’ contract — at which point Barnes effectively stopped being a good pitcher — and he grabbed some guys off waivers as well as some others in the Rule 5 draft. He took on Adam Otavin in the salary dump. He signed a pair of lefties last winter. He may have struck gold with a waiver claim John Schreiber.

But this offseason was different. The Red Sox have done shockingly little almost everywhere on their roster, but they’ve bolstered the bullpen significantly with a new closer, a new closer and a new lefty. Schreiber, Zach Kelly, Caleb’s place and Franklin Herman are examples of smaller additions that can pay off. Hauk could still be the starter, of course, but the Red Sox have left open the possibility of keeping him in the bullpen.

Farm system

Red Sox Top 10 Prospects

Then now

Tristan’s house

Marcela Mayer

Bobby Dahlbeck

Tristan’s house

Brian Mata

Raffaello sedan

Jarren Duran

Michael Blais

Darvinzon Hernandez

Mikey Romero

Tadevush Varda

Nick York

Jay Groom

Brian Mata

Gilberto Jimenez

Roman Antony

Noah’s song

Brandon Walter

Tanner Hauck

Pauline Edinson

The above lists are Baseball America’s top 10 Red Sox prospects. The “then” list is their ranking before the 2020 season minus #3 Jeter Downs (because Blum acquired it after gaining control). The “now” list was released last month.

If you delve into the top prospects when Bloom took over, you’ll also find C.J. Chatham, Marcus Wilson and Brandon Howlett ranked in the top 20, with Brian Bello falling to No. 16 and Raffaello sedan further down under No. 24. Both Brandon Walter and Eddinson Paulino were already in the system at the time, but not really on anyone’s radar.

Most of the new names in the top 10 are high-end draft picks (especially Marcelo Mayer). Digging deeper into the system, 12 names in the current SoxProspects.com top 60 were acquired by Bloom via trade or minor league free agency.

(Photo by Mookie Betts: (Billy Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)





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