Chaim Bloom, chief baseball officer of the Boston Red Sox, has faced rampant criticism for his failure to keep homegrown starts Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, but he may have earned some goodwill by agreeing to a long-term contract with Rafael Devers. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

On multiple occasions over the last few months, Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said it didn’t matter how much or how often the club professed its love for Rafael Devers. All that mattered, Bloom said, was that a deal ultimately got done.

Bloom was right. Fans were sick of empty promises after seeing Mookie Betts traded to the Dodgers in 2020 and Xander Bogaerts flee to San Diego last month. The Red Sox had tried and failed to sign both Betts and Bogaerts, who were homegrown stars in line for massive paydays. Why would the Devers situation be any different?

On Wednesday, Bloom put John Henry’s money where his mouth is and proved that Devers is, in fact, his own case. The Red Sox and Devers agreed to a monstrous 11-year, $331 million contract that will keep the third baseman in Boston through 2033.

Talk is cheap. Devers was not. And the deal did much more than lock in a cornerstone player for more than a decade. The biggest contract in Red Sox history restored the image of Boston as a big-market club. It proved that the Red Sox are serious about competing and paying a premium to do so. And it may have been even more consequential for the legacy of Bloom, who answered his loudest critics with a historic move unlike anything he had done before.

Bloom’s tenure hasn’t been perfect, as evidenced by the two last-place finishes, some questionable acquisitions, and the failure to retain both Betts and Bogaerts. While it’s unfair to call Bloom the one who let Betts get away (by the time he was hired, it was already clear a trade was the most likely path forward), he is the guy who let Bogaerts get away. The team’s mismanagement of the Bogaerts situation brought real questions about the future of the organization and whether the Red Sox under Bloom would ever be willing to pay a premium for a star player.

As pressure mounted, so did the urgency. Bloom even shifted his tone publicly, telling ESPN last month that the Red Sox would likely “go beyond reason” to get a Devers deal done.


Credit Bloom for his ability to adjust and answer the moment. In the wake of Bogaerts’ departure, it became clear to anyone with a pulse that the Red Sox couldn’t let Devers walk, too. There’s no question that committing $331 million to a single player goes against Bloom’s nature and likely makes him uncomfortable. A deal like Devers’ might go against everything Bloom has believed in throughout his entire career. But it’s what the Red Sox, in this market and in this moment, needed. And when push came to shove, Bloom delivered.

There is some truth to the theory that Bloom was brought in to incorporate the small-market principles – like improving a roster at the margins or prioritizing depth and player development – that were so effective during his time in Tampa Bay. But referring to the Red Sox as “Tampa Bay North,” at least in the early stages of Bloom’s tenure, missed the point. Prior economic commitments hamstrung the Red Sox so badly that the desire to get under the competitive balance tax threshold (and the Betts trade that accomplished that goal) was predetermined for Bloom when he took the job.

It wasn’t until last winter that the Red Sox had real room to spend. Trevor Story’s $140 million contract was a good sign. But it still represented a modest commitment compared to what it would ultimately take to secure Bogaerts or Devers.

Maybe Bloom learned a valuable lesson from the Bogaerts talks – an abject failure by the organization – that informed how he negotiated with Devers in recent weeks. When players (even ones who have spent their entire careers in one uniform and repeatedly proclaim their love for their team) get to test free agency, they get to really see if the grass (and pile of cash) is greener somewhere else. Bogaerts surely thought so. The Red Sox did everything in their power to make sure Devers couldn’t make a similar choice.

Turning lottery tickets like John Schreiber or Garrett Whitlock into productive players is nice and all, but in order to build the next great Red Sox team, Bloom was always going to have to step out of his comfort zone eventually. He could theoretically build a contender like he helped do in Tampa Bay with depth signings, low-risk fliers and below-market, pre-arbitration extensions.

But ultimately, he’d have to use all the resources at his disposal and spend. The Devers’ deal, which perfectly aligns with Bloom’s long-stated goal of helping the Red Sox both in the short- and long-term, is a sign that the Red Sox of old are back.

Bloom is still going to look for that waiver-wire pickup who can eat important innings in July. He’s still going to read scouting reports about the unheralded Double-A prospect who needs a change of scenery. But he proved once and for all Wednesday that he’s also not afraid of the big move – and the Red Sox are better off as a result.

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