By Tyler Maher
The Boston Red Sox got some horrific news last week. No, Chris Sale didn’t fall off his bike again, nor did another star player leave for nothing.
No, the news was much worse than that. Keith Law released his annual farm system rankings at The Athletic, and he had the Red Sox ranked 23rd. Not only does he have them behind every other team in the AL East (yikes), but he also put them only one spot ahead of Dave Dombrowski’s Philadelphia Phillies.
Red Sox fans remember Dombrowski. He was the guy in charge the last time they won the World Series, all the way back in 2018. He’s also the guy who supposedly burned their farm system to the ground and has no idea how to build one.
That was part of the reasoning for why he was canned, less than a year after winning a title, no less. He was also running up quite the payroll by throwing money at literally anyone who would sign a contract (Eduardo Nunez and Steve Pearce say thank you), and Boston’s ownership group wanted to rein in spending. Dombrowski had no interest in that, of course, so he had to go.
Enter Chaim Bloom, who was brought in to clean up Dombrowski’s mess. After years of helping run the Tampa Bay Rays, he knew how to do more with less. He would focus on winning efficiently and sustainably, primarily by building from within.
Tasked with replenishing Boston’s depleted farm system, he immediately began tearing down the juggernaut roster that Dombrowski had painstakingly constructed over the previous four years. Whereas Dombrowski treated prospects like trash and casually threw them away, Bloom did the same with stars and veterans. Mookie Betts and David Price were the first to go, dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the pitiful return of Alex Verdugo, two prospects, and salary relief – hardly a fair deal for a former MVP and Cy Young winner.
It’s been almost three years to the day since Bloom made that deal, and the Red Sox still haven’t recovered from it. Bloom has since made similar trades in an effort to restock the minors, trading away Andrew Benintendi, Hunter Renfroe, Christian Vazquez, and others. None of those moves have worked out particularly well, however, which may have spooked him from cashing in most of his pending free agents last summer even as Boston spiraled out of contention.
So essentially, Bloom has been doing reverse-Dombrowski deals. Dombrowski was keen on swapping prospects for established talent, and most of the youngsters he gave up never panned out. Bloom has done the opposite, shipping away proven commodities for unproven kids who haven’t amounted to much.
That’s a good way to make your team a lot worse really fast, and that’s exactly what’s happened under Bloom’s watch. The Red Sox have already finished last twice in three seasons since he took over, and nobody would be surprised if it happens again this year.
All the bloodletting at the MLB level could at least be tolerated if Bloom was building one of the best farm systems in baseball, but he isn’t. According to Law, at least, Boston’s farm system is one of the worst. That may be overly harsh, but when you look around there’s not a lot of upside or impact talent in the pipeline beyond a handful of rising stars, most notably Marcelo Mayer. Bloom has added plenty of quantity, but not much quality.
And that’s a shame because there’s just not a whole lot for Red Sox fans to look forward to. Another mediocre season looms on the horizon, and potentially several more beyond that. Bloom has delivered on his promise of sustainability, alright, just not the type he envisioned.
Tyler Maher is a Content Editor for The Duel who previously worked for MLB.com.
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