Future of the Red Sox
BY ERIC ZHAO '25
On October 28, 2018, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-1, to win the World Series, their fourth title in 15 seasons. The Red Sox had built one of the greatest MLB teams in the 21st century with 108 wins and an 11-3 record in the postseason where they easily defeated multiple 100-win teams to win it all. The team had a franchise shortstop in Xander Bogaerts, the AL MVP and multiple-time all-star Mookie Betts, an RBI machine in J.D. Martinez, rising stars in Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi, and a pitching lineup spearheaded by ace Chris Sale. And while the farm system was extremely thin, the team had franchise players lined up. With these players, the future of the Red Sox seemed promising. Until it wasn’t. Five seasons later, the team finished last place in the AL East for the fourth time in five seasons, fired their second general manager, and the homegrown superstars had vanished. Their failure: the greed of ownership.
The Red Sox regressed in 2019 significantly, finishing with 84 wins, a far cry from the team that won the WS the previous year. General manager Dave Dombrowski, who was brought in to recruit stars to the team to help win a championship (which he did) was fired in September; ownership, more specifically principal owner John Henry, couldn’t justify the amount of money he was spending for such a mediocre season. Henry, who owns Fenway Sports Group, a company that owns several sports teams including the Red Sox, wanted the team to cut payroll, a change from the fact that the Red Sox historically are a high-spending team (the team had spent over $210 million and paid a $13 million luxury tax in 2019); and thus identified that Dombrowski, a GM known for his spending and aggressiveness to go after players, was no longer the right man for the job. With many players entering free agency, John Henry wanted someone to retool the team with an organized plan, and did so by hiring former Tampa Bay Rays executive Chaim Bloom as President of Baseball Operations. Tampa Bay is well known for ridiculously low payrolls by developing and using young players, who are paid less than veterans. Chaim Bloom’s experience in managing a low payroll was a factor in his hire; ownership envisioned a team with regulated spending and sought to limit the Red Sox’s spending habits.
One of the first moves Bloom chose, and basically had to make to satisfy ownership to cut payroll as President of Baseball Operations was trading Mookie Betts, a beloved perennial MVP-caliber player. Betts, entering the final year of his contract, was due for a massive new contract. Ownership, who wanted to spend less and get under the luxury tax (a tax on teams that spend over a threshold set by the league) did not want to pay Betts; he was later traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers with pitcher David Price in a salary-dumping move for outfielder Alex Verdugo, prospect Jeter Downs and catcher Connor Wong. Alex Verdugo is a solid outfielder and an average hitter, but he was benched multiple times this season by manager Alex Cora for low effort; Connor Wong is an average catcher, and Jeter Downs did not impress as a prospect and was DFA’d (basically got cut) by the team in December 2022. The Red Sox were never able to make a deal with shortstop Xander Bogaerts, as he would leave the team for the San Diego Padres in the 2023 offseason, causing a rift throughout the fanbase as two of the most beloved players on the team would leave during Bloom’s tenure. The team also failed to invest in their pitching, leading to the team to lose/blow many games even when they scored a high amount of runs. And while the team advanced to the ALCS in 2021, the back-to-back last-place finishes in the division disappointed the players, the fans, and ownership alike.
On September 14, 2023, Chaim Bloom was fired by the Boston Red Sox; during his tenure, the team went a mediocre 267-262. While Bloom never succeeded with the Red Sox and definitely wasn’t perfect, he did what ownership and John Henry told him to do: Cut payroll and rebuild the team; so it is confusing why he was fired. John Henry may have realized that cutting payroll does not work for an organization as iconic as the Boston Red Sox; and fired Chaim Bloom as his scapegoat. All in all, John Henry’s change from their traditional formula of spending money that won them four titles from 2004-2018 to a cheap, cost-focused payroll all because of his greed to make millions on top of the millions he already makes regressed the team back years. However, with a loaded farm system and a couple solid players on the team, with the right person as general manager, one that is more aggressive in acquiring stars for prospects and support from FSG, the team can be a postseason contender. For now, the Wikipedia page for Fenway Sports Group says it all: “The Red Sox are current perennial last place division contenders.”