The Boston Red Sox have hired ex-pitcher Craig Breslow as their new chief baseball officer, the team announced Wednesday.
Breslow pitched for Boston in 2006 and again from 2012-15. Since 2019, he has worked in the Cubs front office, serving most recently as an assistant general manager. Boston said in its statement that Breslow will be responsible for all baseball operations matters.
He is the second straight Yale graduate to lead the Red Sox baseball operations department. Chaim Bloom, who was the first person to hold the chief baseball officer title for the Red Sox, was fired in September after presiding over three last-place finishes in four seasons. Now, Breslow will assume the same title Bloom held.
“I couldn’t be more excited to return to the Boston Red Sox, an organization that means so much to my family and to me,” Breslow said in a statement. “I know firsthand how special winning in Boston is, and I look forward to once again experiencing that passion and success with our fans.”
The Red Sox hope Breslow’s tenure will be more like another Yalie, Theo Epstein, who built the teams that snapped the franchise’s 86-year World Series drought, winning it all in 2004 and again in 2007.
Bloom was unable to match him. He was fired with three weeks left in the season, before the start of a Sept. 14 doubleheader against the rival Yankees. With a loss in the night game, the Red Sox dropped into a tie for last place in the AL East; they never got out of the cellar, finishing fifth for the third time in four seasons.
“Each year, one baseball club emerges with a championship,” Red Sox principal owner John Henry said in a statement. “Our organization continues to have significantly high standards and expectations with a goal of being able to compete annually for that coveted privilege. After the 2018 World Series, we sought to build a future that would avoid the ups and downs normally associated with winning. That plainly hasn’t happened."
Henry said Breslow's understanding of the game made him “the right person at the right time to lead out baseball department.”
“What convinced us to bring him aboard in this capacity was his highly strategic philosophy and his grasp of what it takes operationally in today’s evolving game to excel at the highest level in player acquisition, development, and execution at the major league level,” Henry said. "We are excited to welcome him back.”
Bloom was hired from the Tampa Bay Rays to help revive the farm system and bring financial stability to a team that was one of baseball’s biggest spenders. One of his first moves was to trade 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts, a year before he was eligible for free agency, on a mandate from ownership to get the payroll in order.
The return for Betts was unspectacular — outfielder Alex Verdugo and some prospects that have not panned out — and other moves have failed to yield results at the major league level. Bloom also watched shortstop Xander Bogaerts, whom the organization developed into a four-time All-Star, depart as a free agent.
In all, the Red Sox were 267-262 in Bloom’s tenure, with a trip to the AL Championship Series in 2021.
The search for his replacement was complicated by the team’s commitment to manager Alex Cora. The former infielder who led Boston to a franchise-record 108 regular-season victories and a World Series title in 2018 announced on his own that he will be back for 2024, a signal to candidates that they will have to share power with the bench boss.
The Red Sox also committed to other members of the front office, promoting general manager Brian O’Halloran to executive vice president of baseball operations even before a head of the department had been chosen. Assistant general managers Eddie Romero, Raquel Ferreira and Michael Groopman also remained on board.
The murky power structure reportedly turned off several potential hires, who withdrew their names from consideration for the position.
Although the Red Sox have been the most successful team in the majors this century, winning four World Series after going 86 years without even one, Breslow is the fifth different baseball boss since the ownership group led by John Henry took over in 2002.
The fact that Epstein (2004, ’07), Ben Cherington (’13) and Dave Dombrowski (’18) all left on bad terms despite building championship-winning teams was also said to scare off some potential successors.
Kennedy insisted he was not worried.
“At the end of the day, this is the Boston Red Sox,” he said the day after the season ended. “If you want to run a baseball organization, this is where you want to be. You want to be in Boston.
“Why? Because it matters here more than anywhere else,” he said. “If you’re not up for that challenge? Thanks, but no thanks."
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB
Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press