Red Sox’ѕ Chаіm Bloom hаѕ ‘fun’ trаdіng for рroѕрeсtѕ deѕріte volаtіlіty

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has whiffed on several prospects he has acquired in trades. Most notably, the Red Sox designated Jeter Downs, the top prospect from the Mookie Betts trade, for assignment in December after he struck out in 31.1% of his 740 plate appearances at Triple-A Worcester in 2021-22.

But trading for young players is an arduous task with a high strikeout rate for any baseball executive. Baseball America did research on the topic in 2021, reporting, “124 of the 612 prospects traded in non-waiver deadline deals from 2001-2016 went on to play the majority of more than one season in the majors and post a positive career WAR. That’s just 20.3% of all prospects moved in such trades.”

Despite the volatility, Bloom actually enjoys it.

“I think it’s fun,” Bloom said during a recent interview with

Fun? Is he being serious?

“It’s a challenge because there’s more that’s on the come and the gap between what they are and what you hope they can be is greater,” Bloom said. “But It’s also fun because to me, if you’re doing your homework, it’s really a chance for a whole organization to do a lot of good work.”

Bloom has received his fair share of criticism not only because the big league club has finished last in the AL East twice in three seasons, but also for his trade returns in big deals. Legendary WBZ reporter Jonny Miller didn’t waste time during Bloom’s first 2023 spring training press conference, asking him, “Is your job on the line this year?”

But three months later, Bloom and his entire staff are beginning to reap the benefits of some laborious trade evaluation homework they have done. Things aren’t close to perfect as Boston entered Tuesday losers of four straight games. But a bridge to the future is starting to come more into focus.

The Andrew Benintendi trade looked like a bust six months ago when the Red Sox non-tendered Franchy Cordero. Josh Winckowski, who Boston also acquired in the deal, was coming off a difficult rookie season. He finished with a 5.89 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 15 outings (14 starts).

But the trade has looked better with Winckowski emerging as one of Boston’s top relievers this season. The 24-year-old righty has a 2.39 ERA in 16 outings (26 ⅓ innings).

The trade return for Betts also will look significantly better if Connor Wong turns into a starting catcher and he has showed flashes of it. Alex Verdugo, who was acquired in the Betts trade, is tied for the Red Sox lead with Jarren Duran in WAR (1.4), per Wong is eighth on the team in WAR and Winckowski is ninth.

“It requires a lot of patience,” Bloom said. “We saw it with Wink last year. He showed flashes but on the whole he didn’t perform all that well. And he has this incredible offseason, does great work with the group down in Florida. And he comes into spring training and from day one you could tell this guy was going to be different this year. It’s fun as an organization to have a lot of people who can have their fingerprints on that trade.”

Therein lies the fun part for Bloom. Everyone gets involved.

“Obviously from folks in the office who can slice and dice and evaluate the player in different ways to the development staff who may have seen him to the sports medicine staff who might see some interesting opportunities with what you can do athletically with a player. And obviously for our scouting staff to really get to know everything they can about this guy and to just get a sense of what all the possibilities are,” he said.

Downs, Franklin German (Adam Ottavino trade), Connor Seabold (Brandon Workman trade), Hudson Potts (Mitch Moreland trade) and Jeisson Rosario (Moreland trade) all have been designated for assignment.

But three of the 10 combined prospects Bloom acquired for the four most high-profile players he has traded (Betts, Benintendi, Christian Vázquez and Hunter Renfroe) are on the 26-man roster. There are four players all together on the active roster from those four trades.

Enmanuel Valdez — who Boston acquired in the Vázquez trade last August — has filled in admirably with Yu Chang and Christian Arroyo on the IL. He entered Tuesday with a .294/.346/.471/.816 line in 17 games (55 plate appearances).

Some think Wilyer Abreu — who was acquired with Valdez — is the better player because of his raw power, plate discipline and above-average outfield defense. The 23-year-old was one of only five minor leaguers in all of affiliated ball in 2022 to finish with 100 or more walks.

“Especially with young players, you’re going to ride the roller coaster so you’re just trying to not get too high or too low with that,” Bloom said. “Now with all that being said, to me, there’s nobody and nothing that could put more pressure on me than I put on myself. I view every day as something where I’m competing against 29 other people to see who can do the best job. And that means something different every day, but I take that really seriously.”

Bloom arrived here from Tampa Bay, an organization focused on run prevention. The Rays almost always rank near the top of the league statistically in defense and pitching.

But Bloom and the Red Sox targeted Valdez despite his defensive shortcomings. Bloom did the same when he signed Masataka Yoshida, who Baseball America ranked Boston’s No. 4 prospect entering this season.

“That’s going to be on us to try to help him (Valdez) as much as we can in that regard,” Bloom said. “We know he’s going to put in the work. We know he has been. It’s going to be on us to try to see how high a ceiling we can help him reach defensively. I don’t think you should ever walk past any kind of talent. Big league talent comes in a lot of different packages. If someone has that talent (as he does as a hitter), you shouldn’t walk past it.”

Valdez not only is working hard with infield coach Carlos Febles on some different infield drills. But the Red Sox also are having Valdez work on lateral movement drills in the gym to help him improve defensively.

“When I think about a lot of the things we did with the Rays and that I still do that I think is important is never losing sight of how a player can help you win,” Bloom said. “With any player, you can pick apart deficiencies. There are very few players where it’s really hard to poke holes in them.

“One of the things that they (Rays) do really well is enhancing and emphasizing the way players can help you win,” Bloom added. “And when you do that, you can put players in positions to succeed. Emphasize what they can do. Put them in a position for those things to be able to help your club. You always work on the total package but not lose appreciation for the positives that any player brings.”

Wong wasn’t part of the initial Betts trade. The Red Sox agreed to a three-team deal that would have netted them Verdugo from the Dodgers and righty Brusdar Graterol from the Twins. But the Red Sox had concerns about Graterol’s medicals and they instead acquired Downs and Wong along with Verdugo from Los Angeles.

Boston zeroed in on Wong’s athleticism when it returned to the negotiating table.

“There were so many conversations with them (Dodgers) leading up to that deal,” Bloom said. “There were so many different players we talked about over the course of the negotiations. We did a lot of homework on their organization. We saw a really interesting athlete who was just starting to learn how to catch. His makeup is what’s allowing him to grow into the catcher that he has become. And physically, when you just look at the pure athlete, he brings something not a lot of guys do to the position.” interviewed Bloom for this article in Philadelphia where the Red Sox were playing the Phillies who are led by star catcher J. T. Realmuto.

“You look at the club on the other side of the field from us, they have a guy who is an athletic freak at that position who’s pacing everybody,” Bloom said. “I think he’s an example of what athleticism can mean at that position. And Connor has that type of athleticism.

“You see it defensively,” Bloom added. “You see it with him running the bases. And those guys have a chance to get better when it’s combined with the makeup that he has. They have a chance to really learn and grow and progress, especially at that position. We know it’s going to be a journey. Development at that position is not always linear. But he’s always shown flashes of the things that he has showed us in the early part this season.”

There are still many TBD prospects in the system who Bloom has acquired via trade.

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