Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom might not have been predicting his team would finish well away from the playoffs as some experts projected before the season.
But his preseason expectations for the 2021 Red Sox weren’t exactly World Series-or-bust, which he reminded everyone in his postseason address Monday.
“In February, when I was asked what my hopes, what my goals were for this season…we wanted to come out of it feeling like this could be the start of [a next core],” he told reporters. “I think we’re there.”
Following an unexpected playoff run, perhaps Bloom has a point.
The Red Sox surprised the baseball world first by winning 92 games after last season’s fourth-worst finish in the league, then knocked off the New York Yankees and the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays before falling to the Houston Astros in the ALCS.
Bloom’s hope is that this is only the beginning.
“I think the vision now is just to continue to build on what we had this year where we had Fenway Park — playing postseason baseball, meaningful games, almost all the way to the World Series,” he said.
At least for next year, several core players, like Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi and a (hopefully) healthy Chris Sale, are under contract, as is postseason hero Kiké Hernández.
But there are also a few immediate questions about the team, including what to do with free-agent slugger Kyle Schwarber.
The former Chicago Cub gave the offense a much-needed boost in the second half of the season and provided some playoff fireworks as well as monstrous home runs off of the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and the Astros’ José Uriquidy in the playoffs.
However, he’ll likely be looking for a multi-year deal in free agency rather than the one-year, $11 million mutual option he could sign with the Red Sox.
For what it’s worth, Schwarber has expressed interest in coming back to Boston, where he’s become a fan favorite. Bloom suggested the feeling was mutual and indicated the Red Sox weren’t worried about Schwarber’s ability to adapt to a bigger role at first base.
“We played some of our best baseball [with Schwarber at first and J.D. Martinez at DH] with Kyle learning that position on the fly. And I think we saw him get better as time went on,” Bloom said, adding “talent is talent” where Schwarber’s bat is concerned.
The Sox baseball executive also gave strong hints the team will look to pick up catcher Christian Vázquez’s $7 million club option.
One person who definitely won’t be back for the Red Sox in 2022: first base coach Tom Goodwin.
The former MLB veteran had been on the team’s coaching staff since 2018 but was replaced by quality control coach Ramón Vázquez during the playoffs because he was unvaccinated for COVID-19 — MLB rules mandated the COVID vaccine for all non-playing team staff members during the playoffs.
Goodwin also spent two stints on the league’s COVID-19 injured list because he was an unvaccinated close contact of coaches or players that had tested positive during the team’s late-season outbreak.
Bloom explicitly said Goodwin’s vaccination status didn’t factor into the decision to part ways with him, calling it “a baseball decision.” It’s worth noting, though, that moving on from Goodwin for being unavailable for baseball games due to being unvaccinated could very much fit under that umbrella.
The expectation is that the rest of the coaching staff, however, will be back next year, according to Bloom. He and that staff will, of course, be hoping the Red Sox themselves are back as well — back to the playoffs with the World Series on the radar.
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