Chaim Bloom has now been running the Boston Red Sox for just over two years, originally being hired shortly after the 2019 season. Through these highs and lows of the past two years, Chaim Bloom has stuck to his original plan: Making moves with the end goal of adding overall value to the organization in order to build a sustainable model of success. With two full years of transactions under his belt and no more on the immediate horizon, now is a great time to take a look back at Chaim Bloom’s top 10 moves in Boston. Today, we’ll take a look at the back half of the list, with the top five coming in part two.
10. Signing IF José Iglesias (9/6/21)
The irony of starting this list with a signing of a player who would only play in 23 games during the lifetime of this contract after talking about Chaim’s goal of sustainability is not lost on me, but I simply couldn’t help myself, recency bias be damned. In September, the Red Sox found themselves teetering on the precipice of the postseason while their roster got ravaged by COVID-19. Enter: A savior, José Iglesias. The former Boston shortstop came back home to appear in 23 games, mostly at second base. He was nothing short of fantastic, slashing .356/.406/.508 helping to launch the Red Sox into the postseason. While it is entirely plausible that the Red Sox make the playoffs even without signing Iglesias, but thanks to José Iglesias, and Chaim Bloom, we never had to find out.
9. Acquiring RHP Adam Ottavino and Frank German from NYY for PTBNL or Cash Considerations (1/25/21)
This deal came out of nowhere in late January of 2021. The deal seemed a bit perplexing on both sides. Firstly, the Red Sox were coming off of a disastrous 2020, and at this point in the offseason, had made only marginal improvements to the roster. What use would a high leverage reliever be to a team without much chance to contend? Secondly, the Yankees were in a position to compete. As always, they had a great bullpen, but giving Ottavino away for free, especially to a divisional rival, seemed odd. In this one move, Bloom managed to weaken a rival, strengthen his bullpen (one of the weakest parts of his roster), and acquire a prospect in Frank German who Sox Prospects ranks as the 50th best prospect in the system. Ottavino played a key role in the bullpen, originally as a set-up man to Matt Barnes, and eventually, as part of the closing committee implemented following Barnes’s collapse.
8. Acquiring OF Alex Verdugo, MIF Jeter Downs, and C Connor Wong for RF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price, and cash (2/10/20)
When I started this list, I knew this move would have to be on it, but where to rank it eluded me. There are so many moving pieces to this deal that it’s difficult to break down. I think it is most important to note that the decision to trade Mookie Betts was not made by Chaim Bloom, it was made by John Henry and Fenway Sports Group. Chaim Bloom was simply responsible for getting the best package he could for Betts, which I believe he did, especially when compared to the returns sent the other way in the Nolan Arenado and Francisco Lindor trades. Of the three return packages, Alex Verdugo is clearly the best player, while Jeter Downs and Connor Wong both slot in high in the team’s prospect rankings (5th and 16th respectively, per Sox Prospects), despite both having down years in 2021. Having Mookie Betts would be amazing, but Bloom did his best to make lemonade out of the lemons handed to him by John Henry.
7. Signing (12/14/20) OF Hunter Renfroe; Trading Renfroe for CF Jackie Bradley Jr, CIF Alex Binelas, and MIF David Hamilton (12/1/21)
I was thrilled when Chaim Bloom signed Hunter Renfroe following the Rays’ decision to nontender him following a down year in 2020. He was a strong defender with the potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat, and Chaim Bloom managed to get him for just $3 million. Renfroe exceeded any reasonable expectation of him in 2021. He dazzled in the field with his cannon of an arm, tying Adolis García for the MLB lead in outfield assists, at 16. At the plate, he slugged 31 homers en route to a 112 OPS+ across 144 games. He received heavy criticism for his lack of production in October, but the team probably would not have made it to October at all if not for Hunter Renfroe.
Rumors had been swirling for a bit about the possibility of the Red Sox moving an outfielder, and Hunter Renfroe always seemed like the most likely to be dealt. Many saw this as selling high on Renfroe, but that 112 OPS+ is not too far off from his career mark (108) and below his career-best of 120 in 2018. While it was not the biggest shock when the news initially broke that Renfroe was on the move, it was quite surprising when the return was reported. This move, like the Ottavino trade, was Chaim trying to buy prospects. The duo of Binelas and Hamilton carried a higher price tag, but you get what you pay for. Binelas, ranked 18th, was drafted out of Louisville in the third round of the 2021 draft. The power hitting corner infielder immediately began mashing, slashing .314/.379/.636 through 132 plate appearances in A ball this season, while slugging 9 home runs. On the other hand, David Hamilton (ranked 26th), an 8th round selection by Milwaukee in 2019 is a contact-oriented middle infielder with plus-plus speed. Both of these players were great additions to the organization, and yet neither were the headliner of the return, as that distinction goes to 2018 World Series champion Jackie Bradley Jr. The gold glove center fielder is coming off a disastrous 2021, as he was perhaps the single worst hitter in the entire league. Presumably, Bloom will add at least one more outfielder before opening day, which should push Bradley into a bench role, but his glove and familiarity with the quirky Fenway outfield could prove invaluable.
6. Signing Enrique Hernández (2/2/21)
To this day, the Enrique Hernández contract is still the largest one handed out by Chaim Bloom at $14 million over two years, and he has been worth every penny and then some. Previously filling a utility role, Hernández left Los Angeles seeking an opportunity to play every day, which he found in Boston, where he was expected to play second base. However, he quickly became the team’s starting center fielder, where he was fantastic. His 9 outs above average ranked 11th among all Major League outfielders. At the plate, he was able to lock down his spot as the leadoff man down the stretch after initially losing it, as he OPSed .949 and .926 in July and August. With this combination of top-of-the-line defense and above-average production at the plate, he was arguably the team’s best player, finishing tied with Xander Bogaerts for the team lead in bWAR at 4.9. For just $7 million AAV, Enrique Hernández has been an absolute steal; not to mention his legendary postseason, where he posted 10 XBH (5 home runs, 4 doubles, 1 triple) across 52 postseason plate appearances, highlighted by his walk-off sacrifice fly to win Game 4 of the ALDS to send the team to the League Championship series.
Matt O’Halloran is a junior mathematics major at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He works in analytics with the school’s baseball program. He is a writer for Beyond the Box Score and an editor at Diamond Digest. He can be found on Twitter @matto20.