The unique path the Red Sox took to locking up Chaim Bloom

Rob Bradford
October 28, 2019 - 10:56 pm
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The Red Sox did call Theo Epstein. They did call Andrew Friedman. And they did call Mike Hazen.

But the communication with the big fish in Major League Baseball's decision-making world wasn't for the reasons many would have originally surmised.

The calls were made to find out who the most important call should be made to.

The answer from all three -- and others -- was unanimous: Chaim Bloom.

The whole process wasn't as many expected, and certainly not how most of the recent GM/President of Baseball Operations searches have unfolded. Take the Giants' quest to fill their spot a year ago. A wide net was cast and a lot of permissions were asked. But with each plea by San Francisco -- which also interviewed Bloom -- more and more feathers were starting to get ruffled, which is often the case when so many candidates and their employers are being put on hold.

On Oct. 18 Red Sox principal owner John Henry called Rays owner Stu Sterberg for permission to interview Bloom. The next day, after getting the final go-ahead from Tampa Bay president Matt Silverman -- with the mandate that the Red Sox had a week to get something done  -- Sam Kennedy reached out to the candidate. But along with the usual inquiry regarding Bloom's interest, there was another piece Kennedy passed along. The Rays exec was told flat-out told there were no other candidates.

Unlike his other interviews for GM jobs -- which also included Philadelphia, Milwaukee and the Mets -- there was going to be no worrying about competition for the position in question.

"It's flattering. It's wasn't something I necessarily spent time worrying about one way or another," Bloom told WEEI.com. "I was just more focused on if this was going to be a fit for everybody. It's not just about me trying to get a job. It's about figuring out if this has a chance to be really successful and if this has a chance to be a fit. That's where my focus was.

"I did appreciate they were so thorough in the interview process. And one of the reasons I thought it might have a chance to be a fit was because the things they identified as strengths are things that I'm proud of and things I like to think are strengths and the organization I came from really believes in. That showed to me that they had spent a lot of time thinking about this."

The Red Sox had their list of 20 names, each of which offered some intrigue. But the merit belonging to Bloom kept being bubbled up by the big-name decision-makers from Chicago, Los Angeles and Arizona -- each of whom so many thought would be pursued by the Red Sox. Directness. Decisiveness. Creativity. Ability to stay ahead of the curve. And a personality that has endeared himself to the baseball community. Some of the biggest names in the sport were identifying each and every quality with the 36-year-old.

The Red Sox ownership group knew it liked what Tampa Bay was doing.

"They develop pitching," Henry said. "They have certain advantages we don’t have in the draft. The goalposts have sort of moved a little so they have some advantages. It’s a very strong organization. I think in the last dozen years we have probably won two and a quarter more games than they have. They do everything right. They don’t get supported but they do everything right."

In the last few weeks, they discovered -- through long talks about Bloom and then to the man himself -- exactly what made the Rays way even more likable.

"I would just say in our extensive conversations with Chaim, he really ticked every box we were hoping he would check out," said Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. "He’s thoughtful, innovative, collaborative. Every person we talked to within other teams in baseball had the highest regard for Chaim. We were so pleased that our in-person interviews matched our expectations."