Those following baseball heard the announcement from the Boston Red Sox this week when they named Craig Breslow as the team’s next Chief Baseball Officer. It was an interesting search, with many notable candidates declining the position, ultimately leading to Breslow getting hired. A Yale graduate, Breslow was named the sport’s smartest player during his playing career, even being named one of the smartest athletes in general as well. He won a ring with Boston back in 2013 and joined the Chicago Cubs front office after he was done playing. Now, he’ll be in charge of the organization’s moves going forward.
While many have complained about the amount of people who turned down the job, I think Breslow can flourish and was the right decision. Pitching has been this team’s Achilles heel during the Chaim Bloom era of Red Sox baseball, finishing 28th or lower in team ERA three out of four seasons under Bloom. With the Cubs, Breslow specialized in pitching. He led an organization-wide change in pitching philosophy that turned Justin Steele into a Cy Young candidate in 2023, brought out the best in Marcus Stroman and led to a top-30 ranked pitching prospect in Cade Horton (ranked 29th on MLB.com).
Something that has flown a little under the radar is that Theo Epstein recruited him himself for a position. Epstein, especially in Boston, is highly regarded as one of the brightest minds in the sport and saw the potential in Breslow. While he might lack experience at the head of a front office, he’s still been in the room and seen how it’s been done. He’s also entering a Boston market that he’s familiar with as a resident of Massachusetts and a former Red Sox player. Chaim Bloom, who deserves the credit, built up the farm system basically from the bottom, leaving Breslow with plenty of assets for trade and development.
That being said, this team still has plenty of holes. Boston finished last in the division three out of the last four years, with their last division title coming in 2018. As mentioned earlier, pitching has been pretty abysmal over the last couple of seasons for the team, and the defense hasn’t been much better.
The change will start with whoever Breslow decides to hire as Boston’s next pitching and fielding coach positions. Dave Bush and Carlos Febles held those positions previously, and the team struggled in those categories under them. With Bush and Febles out, Breslow will get to pick who he wants to bring in. A name being floated around is another former Red Sox player and current Giants pitching coach, Andrew Bailey. The former rookie of the year has ties with Breslow and has done relatively well in San Francisco, helping the team finish top-15 in team ERA in each of the last three seasons, including a second-best ERA in 2021.
As for actual moves, the team has plenty of decisions to make. Soon-to-be Cy Young winner Blake Snell is set to hit the open market and is a great rotational piece the Red Sox could use. Yoshinobu Yamamoto has impressed MLB fans and teams with his spectacular performances in the NPB and should receive an offer from the Sox. Shohei Ohtani finally hits free agency after the Angels failed to extend him, and he’ll be a player teams open up the pocketbook for, including Boston. Players like Sonny Gray, Aaron Nola and Jorge Soler all have the potential to be linked to the Red Sox at some point, but the trade market is open too. Names like Shane Bieber have been talked about recently and could be a potential fit for Boston. With an abundance of left-handed outfield bats, Breslow and the front office could look to move one of those to solidify areas of need. That means someone like Alex Verdugo could be on his way out, with rumblings of trade talks already going down.
As for what needs to change with actual leadership under Breslow, it is the ability to make impact moves. Under Bloom, not many flashy big-market moves were made, which upset not only the fans but the players as well. That’s why I feel that Boston will be more aggressive this offseason; they need to be. If the Red Sox continued to settle for conservative transactions, there was no use in firing Chaim Bloom. Now that Bloom’s gone, it should mean that they will go out and field a competitive MLB team and not just try and build up the system. However, they need to find a way to do both simultaneously to find continued success, and they’re looking for Breslow to be that guy.
Can Breslow do that is going to be what we find out. The lack of experience leaves a lot to be questioned about what type of guy he’ll be, but I think Red Sox fans will find out quickly what his ideas are. At the end of the day, winning is what matters in Boston. Hopefully, for the first time since Dave Dombrowski was general manager, the Boston Red Sox will actively be putting together a roster to win now, with Craig Breslow leading the way.