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Bloom: Red Sox can compete in 2020, expected backlash for Mookie deal

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Boston Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom announced Monday that All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts and left-hander David Price were officially traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While Bloom understands the talent the team lost, he isn’t ready to wave the white flag on the 2020 season.

“What Mookie and David are capable of on the field is a lot,” Bloom said. “I think it’s reasonable to expect that we’re going to be worse without them. We have really good talent coming back, we’ve added talent to the roster this winter and I think it’s important to point out that at the beginning of the winter, this team had a lot more talent than the 84 wins we put up last year. We still think there’s plenty of talent here to compete.”

The executive admitted that dealing Price and the 2018 American League MVP wasn’t easy.

“Mookie and David have written chapters in our history that will last forever,” Bloom said. “They are special both on the field and off, and we are grateful to them for the joy that they’ve brought to Red Sox Nation.

“Our overarching goal is to maintain a talent base that puts us in position to win as much as possible for years to come. That goal was front and center for us as we considered this trade. We have a talented major-league roster, and we fully expect to compete for the postseason in 2020.”

Bloom acknowledged the Red Sox didn’t go into the winter looking to deal Betts, but teams stepped up in recent weeks and met the “high bar” the front office set.

While Bloom was addressing the media during a press conference, Red Sox owner John Henry released a statement of his own.

“While the organization in its entirety very much wanted to see Mookie in a Red Sox uniform for the length of his career, we believe in this decision as we are responsible and accountable for both the present and the future of the Red Sox.”

Henry received plenty of backlash following the original report that Betts was traded for Verdugo and Minnesota Twins prospect Brusdar Graterol. That trade was later revised, and Bloom said the initial negative reaction had no influence on reworking the deal and reports to the contrary are “completely untrue.”

“We certainly anticipated (backlash),” Bloom said. “As we were going through this week, obviously it was hard to have a true sense of it. It wasn’t our No. 1 priority as a baseball ops department to be focused on what was going on externally. We worried obviously about what we were working on, but it was very clear to us that this move would come with a lot of fan backlash.

“I think we had to prioritize what was right in the big picture for the Red Sox over the fan reaction. It certainly did not catch us off guard. As I said, we know how much, obviously we know the type of player Mookie is, we know how much he matters to our fans. We knew it would hurt, and it’s going to hurt for a little while, but again, the big picture was our biggest priority.”

While Verdugo will fill Betts’ position in the outfield, Price’s departure opens a hole in the rotation. Bloom said the team will look outside the organization for starting pitching help. Boston now sits roughly $20 million under the first luxury-tax threshold.

Though the Red Sox recognized what they lost, Bloom was also excited about what the club received from Los Angeles. Shortstop Jeter Downs takes over as the organization’s top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, while catcher Connor Wong slots in at No. 18.

“By adding Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs, and Connor Wong to the organization, we are in a better position to sustain that competitiveness in the years ahead,” Bloom said. “We are excited to welcome all three of them to the Red Sox family.”

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