It might be hard to remember, but there was a very Red Sox way of doing things when it came to team-building throughout this ownership's run.
If there was a free agent the Red Sox wanted -- truly wanted -- they were going to get him. Sure, there was the case of losing out to the Yankees on Mark Teixeira (which was followed by off-the-record messages proclaiming all was well because Lars Andersen was at the ready). But other than that?
You want John Lackey, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, or David Price? Make sure you take out any concerns regarding playing in Boston by adding another zero or two to that check.
Why do we bring this up? Because very, very early Thursday morning we were offered a pretty powerful reminder on how the thinking, and team, has changed.
At just after 3 a.m., a source confirmed to WEEI.com that Jackie Bradley Jr. had agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal with an opt-out option after the first season. (Julian McWilliams was first to report the agreement.)
The Red Sox said dating back to Aug. 31 when they inexplicably didn't deal Bradley Jr. how much they loved him and wanted him back. In the old days, that usually automatically meant he would be wearing a Sox uniform in 2021. Nope.
They made it very clear at every turn throughout the offseason they were interested in Bradley Jr., keeping in touch with his agent Scott Boras each step of the way. In the end, however, it was nothing more than viewing the outfielder as a luxury item that the Sox were hoping to get at a bargain basement price.
That's fine. Despite the tone of this column to this point, this isn't a criticism of Chaim Bloom.
The point is that with Bradley Jr.'s departure came yet another wake-up call that Bloom has officially made this his team, building it his way.
In a blink of the eye, the outfield of the future has turned into the outfield of the past.
Heading into the 2022 season, the trio of Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Bradley Jr. will be making around a collective $40 million. The Red Sox? Let's just say you're riding with Franchy Cordero, Jarren Duran and Alex Verdugo. At most, you're talking $4 million, with a guarantee of two years of control for Cordero, three for Verdugo and Duran sitting with five.
(There is the $8 million Kiké Hernandez will be making, with the additional option of holding onto the arbitration year of Hunter Renfroe, who is making $3 million in 2021.)
The easy narrative is that the Red Sox are going on the cheap, plain and simple. That's a tough one to fathom, however, when you're still entering the new season with the second-highest CBT number ($204 million) in baseball.
This is about ownership allowing Bloom to turn over a roster, while eyeing the opportunity to potentially truly strike in the free agent market after 2022, when the highest-paid players on the roster (Nathan Eovaldi, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Chris Sale, Christian Vazquez) are all faced with contractural forks in the road.
The Chief Baseball Officer has stiff-armed sentimentality -- not plugging holes with such familiar names as Mitch Moreland, Travis Shaw, Jon Lester or Bradley Jr. -- and instead pushed his chips to the middle of the table with his vision.
Even with all of his offensive inconsistencies, Bradley Jr. would have been the safe (albeit pricier) play. Bloom is clearly not playing is safe, with the Benintendi deal serving as perhaps the primary example.
In Boston sports, there are two things people hate more than anything: Losing and losing popular players.
Now we're going to find out if Bloom can define the next wave of each.