10 candidates to replace Chaim Bloom atop Red Sox front office

In the final throes of another disappointing season, the Boston Red Sox fired chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom today. A divisive figure in New England, Bloom spent almost four seasons as the top decision-maker at Fenway Park, delivering one playoff berth between two last-place finishes. The 2023 Red Sox are currently tied with New York in the AL East basement, spurring a change of ethos from beleaguered ownership.

“While parting ways is not taken lightly, today signals a new direction for our club,” said principal partner John Henry in a statement. “Our organisation has significant expectations on the field, and while Chaim’s efforts in revitalising our baseball infrastructure have helped set the stage for the future, we will today begin a search for new leadership.”

The exact makeup of that new leadership, and the criteria by which candidates will be measured, is yet to be disclosed. However, given Bloom’s predominant belief in advanced analytics, pivoting to a more traditional front office figurehead – redolent of Dave Dombrowski, perhaps – appears likely. An experienced, ‘win-now’ executive would also seem to fit Henry’s cryptic criteria – somebody whose aggression contrasts with Bloom’s risk-averse reticence.

Top candidates to replace Chaim Bloom with the Red Sox

Without further ado, then, here are my initial thoughts on ten potential candidates to replace Chaim Bloom atop the Red Sox’ front office.

1. Theo Epstein

The pipedream for Red Sox fans. The lauded architect of Boston’s golden baseball age, Theo currently consults for Major League Baseball on rule changes and fan engagement. However, last year, Epstein and his wife moved back to New England, purchasing an $11.9 million mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. While many will rightly question what Epstein would have to prove by returning to the Red Sox – who he led to two World Series championships – he does maintain close ties to Henry’s consortium through Arctos Partners, a minority shareholder in Fenway Sports Group. Perhaps a more conventional Red Sox ownership stake could sweeten the deal and lure Theo back to his boyhood shrine. Do not hold your breath, though.

2. Alex Cora

Throughout the 2023 season, deep philosophical rifts emerged between Cora, the current field manager, and Bloom, the deposed czar of baseball operations. Cora has repeatedly questioned player personnel decisions, often in shockingly frank outbursts, and his frustration has become clear for all to see. A shrewd talent evaluator, Cora has often expressed a desire to transition out of management at some point to spend more time with his family. With Bloom now gone, perhaps a top front office job would give Cora the balance and autonomy he craves. Stranger things have happened.

3. Brian Sabean

Currently an executive advisor with the Yankees, Sabean may hunger for one final shot at running his own operation. A bonafide Hall of Fame executive who led the Giants to three World Series titles in a five-season span, Sabean is now 67-years-old. What better way for the Concord, New Hampshire, native to ride into the Cooperstown sunset than by hoisting another banner with New England’s favourite team? Oh, and Jim Bowden linked Sabean to the Red Sox a few months ago, so watch this space.

4. Jon Daniels

A former front office protégé who led Texas to two pennants, Daniels is currently a senior advisor to Tampa Bay, having been fired by the Rangers in 2020. Still only 46-years-old, the Cornell graduate fits the Red Sox’ typical mould. Perhaps more pertinently, he fits somewhere between Bloom and Epstein in terms of pedigree. This could certainly happen, and Daniels has the cache to reinvigorate a depleted fanbase.

5. James Click

Another highly-touted executive in comparative limbo, stashed away as a vice president of baseball strategy in Toronto following a sudden departure from the Astros, Click ticks a lot of boxes from a Red Sox perspective. With two pennants and a World Series crown in three Astros seasons, Click is perhaps the most realistic ‘get’ in terms of bold, win-now, available candidates. At least, there will be a conversation between Click and Boston ownership. At most, do not be surprised if he lands the top job.

6. Dayton Moore

A player development guru, Moore actually interviewed for the Red Sox’ GM post in 2005, during the two months it was vacant while Epstein teased an exit. Though he did not land the gig on that occasion, as Theo inevitably returned, Moore went on to rebuild the Kansas City Royals – so long maligned – into a consistent contender. Back-to-back pennants yielded one unlikely World Series triumph in 2015, but a swift decline saw Moore lose his job in 2022. Highly-respected among the baseball cognoscenti, do not sleep on Dayton Moore as the guy to relaunch the jaded Red Sox.

7. Amiel Sawdaye

Casual Red Sox fans may be unaware of Sawdaye, but he was a staple of the Boston front office between 2002 and 2016, during which the Red Sox won three World Series titles. Initially an Epstein intern, Sawdaye became a Sox scouting assistant, then an assistant director of amateur scouting, before taking control of the team’s amateur scouting operation entirely. When Mike Hazen joined the Diamondbacks in 2016, Sawdaye went with him as a senior vice-president and assistant GM. If Henry simply wants another young visionary to replace Bloom, Sawdaye may be a decent fit.

8. Neal Huntington

An Amherst graduate born and raised in New Hampshire, Huntington cut his teeth with Montreal and Cleveland before landing the Pirates’ GM position in 2007. Blending sabermetrics with traditional scouting, Huntington rebuilt Pittsburgh from perennial laughingstock to surprise contender. And while a promising homegrown core – Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte, et al. – failed to achieve its potential under Huntington, many felt his 2019 ouster was premature. He has since returned to Cleveland in an advisory role, but keep him in mind as a wildcard candidate for the Red Sox post. Huntington has strong ties where they are needed to at least secure an interview.

9. JP Ricciardi

A Worcester, Massachusetts, native, Ricciardi was the man Boston turned to after being rejected by Billy Beane in 2002. Ricciardi was then running the Toronto Blue Jays, who responded to the Red Sox’ interest by giving their man a five-year contract extension. A lot of water has trickled under the bridge since then, and Ricciardi has hopscotched through the league – from Toronto to the Mets to San Francisco, where he is current a special advisor to Farhan Zaidi. Maybe there are too many miles on the clock here. Maybe the Ricciardi-Red Sox potentiality has passed. Then again, maybe not. Never say never.

10. Jason McLeod

Another one-time wunderkind reared by Epstein in Boston, McLeod forged a strong bond with Theo, Hazen, Sawdaye and Jed Hoyer, another key figure in the Red Sox’ renaissance. A player development whiz, McLeod’s fingerprints were all over Boston’s 2007 title, and he subsequently followed Epstein and Hoyer to Chicago, where they replicated that model and success. Now a special assistant to Hazen in Arizona, McLeod may be keen to branch out and go it alone one day. Doing so with the Red Sox may be a stretch right off the bat, but McLeod has credibility with Henry and ownership, so he will certainly be considered.

Honourable mentions

  • Billy Beane – The Athletics’ impending move to Las Vegas may encourage Beane to reconsider his blind loyalty, but his ownership stake complicates matters.
  • Alex Anthopoulos – Has built the Braves into an idealistic juggernaut, but unlikely to be prised from Atlanta.
  • AJ Preller – The biggest baseball gunslinger in the west. Stock has fallen slightly following a disastrous Padres season. Maybe Boston swoops in and grabs a real difference-maker. Doubtful, though.
  • Mike Hazen – Mentioned throughout this piece, Hazen seems happy in Arizona, where the Diamondbacks are entering the fun part of his rebuild. Right guy, wrong time.
  • Mark Shapiro – More of a CEO-type with the Blue Jays nowadays, but a Cambridge, Massachusetts, native with a strong reputation throughout baseball. Do not rule it out.
  • Chris Antonetti – Another sophisticated executive with strong New England roots, Antonetti consistently overachieves with Cleveland. He is Chaim Bloom on steroids, essentially, but his Guardians gig is probably too cushy to warrant a risky departure. 

Prediction

It is notoriously difficult to predict such things, but barring an unforeseen change of heart by Theo, Sabean seems to be the strongest, most plausible candidate available. I think the Red Sox turn this over to a sagacious elder with a winning track record. Sabean fits the bill, and he may round off a Cooperstown career by leading his local team to glory.


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