Chaim Bloom looks out at Fenway Park on Oct. 28 after it was announced he will be the new chief baseball officer for the Boston Red Sox. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

When Andrew Friedman left Tampa Bay after the 2014 season to become the Los Angeles Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, one challenge stuck out to him above the rest.

“You have to learn the CBT, which I knew nothing about,” Friedman said, referencing the competitive balance threshold that limits what teams can spend.

He didn’t really need to after spending more than a decade with the Rays, who annually have one of baseball’s lowest payrolls. Tampa’s 2014 payroll totaled about $77 million, well below that season’s $189 million tax threshold.

Going from there to the Dodgers, who are regularly one of the league’s highest spenders, was a different beast.

“I challenged myself,” Friedman said.

It’s a challenge that Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom is experiencing firsthand right now. Like Friedman, who he worked with for nearly a decade, he’s tasked with going small market to big market, small payroll to big payroll. And that means entering a whole new world with the CBT.


“It’s not something that we had to spend much time on with the Rays, except as far as it came up in talks with other clubs when it was important to them, so I certainly have some things to learn on that front,” Bloom said. “I’ve already started that process.”

In Bloom’s case, it’s even more complicated. Not only does he have to learn what’s mostly been a foreign idea to him, but also apply it quickly. The Red Sox are aiming to get under the 2020 CBT of $208 million, which means they would need to shed around $30 million of payroll, all while staying competitive. That’s a hard ask of an experienced GM, let alone a rookie.

In Friedman, Bloom has something of a blueprint to follow. Though the Dodgers exceeded the CBT in Friedman’s first three seasons as the boss, he lowered payroll by about 20 percent for 2018 as they went on to win the National League pennant.

Bloom has kept a watchful eye from afar as Friedman has navigated the waters he’s about to enter. The two are still close, and the former has certainly called on the latter for some guidance throughout this process.

“I’ve certainly picked his brain about this situation, but that’s nothing new,” Bloom said. “He is one of the greatest mentors I’ve had in this game and I have a great deal of appreciation for how he’s looked out for me over the years and all the things I’ve learned from him. Even after he left the Rays, the process continued, so I think this is just an extension of it.”

When Friedman thinks about Bloom, he’s reminded a bit of himself. He’s served as a sounding board to Bloom throughout the years as he’s interviewed for several No. 1 front office jobs, and this year was no exception.


If anyone knows what Bloom is going through right now, it’s Friedman.

Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers, talks with manager Dave Roberts during spring training in February in Glendale, Arizona. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

“The analogy I give is it’s kind of like you take your own personal snow globe and shake it up, and then you hope that everything falls back into place,” Friedman said. “I think Chaim is very similar to me in this respect. So much of the satisfaction that I derive from this job is the people that I work with, and when you leave the comforts of that and go to another organization, early on that part is difficult in that you are meeting new people and for those relationships and that trust to be built, that takes time. It’s an organic process, and that is probably the most difficult aspect of making the transition.

“Talking to Chaim so far, there’s a lot of talent in place in the front office and he’s really enjoyed getting to know them and they’ve made it really comfortable for him. I think we had more change I think as those things were happening, and so we were kind of doing things on the fly. He’s kind of being rolled into what he describes as a really highly functioning front office.”

Friedman said he got to a point in his Rays tenure that he was “almost on autopilot.” He was ready for a different challenge and in his words, “rewiring how my brain worked.” He described the process as exhilarating.

Bloom has certainly had that allure, too, and the resounding conclusion among the rest of the league at last week’s GM Meetings is that he’s ready for it.

The process has begun. Learning the CBT is just one item on a lengthy offseason to-do list that began in earnest last week in Arizona. Bloom said he had no problem getting to bed after some long and busy days at the meetings, but he wouldn’t have it another way.

“It’s been really invigorating,” Bloom said. “That said, there was never a moment with the Rays when I felt like I was in a rut. I felt challenged every day by what we were trying to accomplish down there with the wonderful teammates that I had. There was never a dull moment there, but still, jumping in here, you experience a lot of new things in thinking about the situation that are really exhilarating.”

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