Red Sox exec Chaim Bloom traded with Yankees because "we won't play scared"

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John Tomase
·3 min read
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Tomase: Bloom traded with Yankees because "we won't play scared" originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Chaim Bloom portrayed Monday's trade that brought reliever Adam Ottavino to Boston as business as usual, even though it's just the third deal between the two clubs in more than 30 years.

Bloom's nonchalance seems at odds with the clubs' respective place in the standings.

The Yankees reached 100 wins in 2018 and 2019 before making the playoffs last year. The Red Sox just finished with the fourth-worst record in baseball.

The knee-jerk question would be to ask why the Red Sox facilitated a salary dump that saved New York roughly $8 million and will help the Yankees field a more competitive team in 2021, but for Bloom the answer is easy.

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He won't play scared.

"I just don't think we can think that way," he said on a Zoom call on Monday. "I know it's the Yankees and I understand what that means. It's the most storied rivalry in sports. Part of what makes the history of this organization so great is getting to lock horns with those guys on a regular basis. But if we're not willing to do something that helps us because it helps them, or worse if we're worried it might not go as we expect and it blows up in our face and we look bad, then we're just playing scared and we're not going to play scared."

Red Sox and Yankees deals don't materialize very often. The last one came at the 2014 trade deadline, when the Red Sox shipped shortstop Stephen Drew to New York for infielder Kelly Johnson.

Prior to that, it was Mike Stanley for Tony Armas Jr. in 1997. A decade earlier, in 1986, the teams swapped designated hitters, with Mike Easler going to New York and Don Baylor bringing his kangaroo court to Boston.

The Ottavino deal, which also netted right-handed pitching prospect Frank German and effectively qualifies as a salary dump, makes four trades in 35 years.

So how does a trade like this come together? It's clear the Yankees and their GM, Brian Cashman, were the motivated sellers. They wanted to dump salary to remain under the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

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"Without going into too much detail, obviously they had an objective I think they were trying to accomplish," Bloom said. "They clearly weren't discriminating about who they were accomplishing it with. So just in a course of conversation, just as we do with every club, we learned there might be a way to match up and just pursued it from there."

Barring something unexpected, the Yankees will be better than the Red Sox this season, and potentially a lot better. But that's not going to stop Bloom from making a deal he considers to be in his best long-term interests.

"I wasn't as concerned going through it, I don't think any of us were, of what it meant for the Yankees," Bloom said. "We were really just looking at how it fit our objectives. I think that's important, even if it is the Yankees. It's very hard to be great if you're too busy worrying about everybody else. We have to worry about ourselves."