Masataka Yoshida: Early Red Sox Offseason Means Start of Search for New Baseball Boss

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 25, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Masataka Yoshida (7) speaks with manager Alex Cora (13) during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

BOSTON (AP) — The next head of the Boston Red Sox baseball operations department might or might not have experience running a team. Come from inside the organization, or outside. Have a lofty title like Chief Baseball Officer — or not.

It might even be more than one person.

“We just don’t know where it’s going to go,” Red Sox President Sam Kennedy said on Monday, a day after the regular season ended with a third last-place finish in four years. “I think you’d be irresponsible not to consider all options.”

Kennedy said the Red Sox could begin interviewing candidates to replace fired Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom this week, but the job or jobs could look different than the one that he had. Bloom was fired with less than three weeks left in the season after failing to meet his mandate to shed payroll — and stars like Mookie Betts — while still winning in the major leagues and building a successful farm system at the same time.

“We should be playing right now. That’s the goal each and every year,” Kennedy said. “We think it’s possible to build and win. We also recognize that this division isn’t getting any easier. It’s incredibly competitive, and we’ve got a lot of work in front of us.”

The only thing that seems certain for the once-proud franchise is that Alex Cora will be back as manager – for 2024 and likely beyond. Although the Red Sox skipper had mentioned wanting to have a front office role at some point, he said on Monday he was content in his current job.

“I’m not prepared to do that,” he said. “I feel like the impact that I can make here in this organization in the upcoming years will be in the dugout.

“It’s not an easy job. If you know baseball and you know how to talk baseball, it doesn’t mean you’re prepared to run an organization. And I’m very comfortable doing what I’m doing.”

A day after longtime Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield died at the age of 57, Kennedy began the postseason news conference by remembering the knuckleballer, broadcaster and charity stalwart.

“We love Wake, for everything he stood for,” Kennedy said, adding a message for fans: “Losing an icon like Tim Wakefield is an incredibly difficult thing. And we feel we feel your pain and we’re really, really sorry for your loss.”

On Monday, the main Fenway Park video board in center field bore Wakefield’s picture, with his wife, Stacy, and the World Series trophy; the scoreboard on the Green Monster had Wakefield’s No. 49 where the Red Sox starting pitcher’s number would go.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Boston Red Sox players line up for a moment of silence to honor former pitcher Tim Wakefield, who passed away earlier in the day at the age of 57, prior to a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Baltimore

Kennedy said the Red Sox have not decided on how Wakefield will be remembered next season, when the team will be celebrating 20 years since the drought-snapping 2004 World Series championship. The goal is to include fans and other people whose lives were touched by him.

Kennedy said the team hasn’t decided whether Curt Schilling, who was also a member of the ’04 team, would be welcomed back for any anniversary ceremonies. It was Schilling who outed Wakefield’s condition — without permission — three days before he died, infuriating many of their teammates.

“I’ve been focused on Wake and the family,” Kennedy said.

In other news:

—Kennedy wouldn’t comment on whether the team would pursue Shohei Ohtani, the two-way Los Angeles Angels star who is due to become a free agent. But Kennedy promised the Red Sox would be active in the offseason in any market that can reverse the recent results.

“We will consider anything and everything to improve for the short term and for the long term,” Kennedy said. “We’ve had two very disappointing seasons, but there’s just nothing like winning in Boston. And we need to get that back.”

—Kennedy insisted that running the Red Sox remains a coveted job, even though the new baseball boss won’t have the power to pick his own manager.

“If you want to run a baseball organization, this is where you want to be,” he said. “You want to be in Boston. Why? Because it matters here more than anywhere else. So if you’re not up for that challenge: Thanks, but no thanks.”

—The Red Sox have increased season ticket prices by “low single digits” despite a second straight last-place finish. The total season attendance was 2.67 million — up about 500 fans per game from last year but worse than any other non-pandemic season since 2002.

Baseball-wide, the increase in the first year of pitch clocks and other initiatives to juice up the games was about 2,400 – almost 10%.