Chaim Bloom makes compelling case for Red Sox's long-term path to spending

Tomase: Bloom outlines compelling long-term vision for Red Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Practically since the day he arrived with a don't-call-it-a-mandate to trade MVP Mookie Betts, Chaim Bloom has faced questions over his priorities.

Did he want to build a farm system or a big league winner? Would he ever spend significantly on players, be they free agents or his own? Would his Red Sox operate like big-market behemoths or bargain hunters?

For the first time -- and maybe just because he was asked the right questions -- Bloom has laid out a compelling vision for why the Red Sox are about to enter a new phase of his stewardship.

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Appearing on the Bradfo Show podcast with WEEI's Rob Bradford, Bloom argued that teams cannot afford to sign players to big contracts until the farm system exists to support them. He noted that the Dodgers could extend Betts for over $300 million not just because of their financial resources, but because they had developed a pipeline of homegrown talent to augment the big expenditures.

Juxtaposing the Betts trade with Rafael Devers' situation today, Bloom suggested that the Red Sox have positioned themselves to take that next step as a franchise.

"I do feel really strongly that we're pointed in the right direction with that, that we're on much better footing than we were a few years ago," Bloom said. "But we still need to keep going with that. If we make good choices, we should be able to win and contend along the way."

The Red Sox were assailed for trading Betts at the start of spring training in 2020, but the way Bloom saw it, he didn't have much of a choice. Because the farm was bereft of talent, he had no way to balance a $350 million contract with cheaper, productive talent. The Red Sox wouldn't be able to surround Betts with the necessary pieces to contend, making the most valuable years of his deal from an individual production standpoint the least valuable ones from a team perspective.

"The organization at that point was in a position where they clearly ... were not the class of the division and were at the bottom of the heap in terms of quality of the farm system," Bloom said. "And there were a ton of commitments on the books. We're fortunate we're blessed with great resources here. But obviously, you still need to be able to have freedom with those resources. And a lot of those resources were tied up. So it wasn't a very good either short-term or long-term position that was going to lead to some tough choices."

So out went Betts, along with $48 million of the $96 million owed to left-hander David Price, which was effectively dead money. That allowed Bloom to begin balancing the books, but it did little for the organization's young talent base.

The Red Sox have since taken one of baseball's worst farm systems and moved up to 11th on Baseball America's organizational rankings.

Last year's No. 4 overall pick, Marcelo Mayer, is a top-15 prospect. Slugging first baseman Triston Casas and hard-throwing right-hander Brayan Bello are already in the big leagues and showing promise. Youngsters like the versatile Ceddanne Rafaela, former first-round pick Nick Yorke, and the slugging Blaze Jordan are all highly regarded.

The farm's contributions at the big-league level may not yet be overwhelming, but the lower levels of the minors have at least put the Red Sox in a position to trade from their prospect inventory to fill holes, and over the next two years, some of their most highly-touted players will arrive.

That puts them in a much better place to make a legitimate offer to retain Devers, their All-Star third baseman.

"With Raffy, we are in a different position as an organization, where I think our talent base is in a much better spot," Bloom said. "And we are not committed in the same way, financially, to as many players as we were at that time. So I can't make any guarantees based on that, but part of what we have been trying to do is to put the organization in a position where we wouldn't be backed into that corner."

With a staggering number of decisions on the docket this offseason -- starting with the futures of Devers and All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts -- Bloom has made a credible argument for why the Red Sox may soon be back in business.