Chaim Bloom is gone, relieved of his duties on Thursday afternoon, and now the Red Sox must decide how to replace him.
The job is not the plum assignment it used to be. Bloom is the third straight head of baseball operations to see his tenure expire in-season after just four years. Convincing potential candidates to uproot their families for a job with such a perishable shelf life isn't easy, especially since Ben Cherington and Dave Dombrowski were jettisoned after winning championships.
The last time the Red Sox conducted a search, they ended up hiring the only man they interviewed. That was partly a function of interest -- the entire Theo Epstein tree basically said "no thank you" in unison -- but also a faulty process. The Red Sox claimed to consider 20 candidates, but they only talked to one. They shouldn't make that mistake again.
So where might they start? Assuming that Theo Epstein has no interest in turning back the clock 20 years, and that his former lieutenants remain content elsewhere (for instance, Jed Hoyer and Mike Hazen, to name two, have the Cubs and Diamondbacks respectively in playoff position), that means opening up an honest-to-goodness outside search.
Here are five names they could consider.
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1. James Click
Talk about a weird run. The Astros hired Click in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal that cost predecessor Jeff Luhnow his job, and all he did in three years was lead the Astros to last year's World Series ... at which point he was effectively fired.
Click now works for the Blue Jays as a vice president of baseball strategy, and it's unclear if he'd even consider another No. 1 job so soon after the misery of dealing with meddlesome Astros owner Jim Crane, but he's a known commodity.
Like Bloom, Click is a Yale grad with extensive Rays ties after spending 15 years in the Tampa organization. He inherited a loaded Astros squad, but added some key pieces to last year's championship team, including relievers Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero, not to mention former Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. He thought he had a deal for All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, but ownership scuttled it.
If there's a concern about Click, it might be that he's too Tampa; like Bloom, he wasn't particularly aggressive at three trade deadlines, and on his watch, the Astros lost free agents George Springer and Carlos Correa. As the Red Sox consider a change, he might be too similar to what they just had.
2. Brandon Gomes
The Fall River, Mass., native and current Dodgers general manager would bring a completely different perspective to the job. With most organizations turning their baseball operations over to analytically-minded Ivy Leaguers who never played professionally, Gomes would represent a shift in the opposite direction. He spent five years in the Rays' bullpen from 2011-2015, compiling a 4.20 ERA in 173 appearances.
He transitioned almost immediately into a front office role with the Dodgers, whose boss, Andrew Friedman, signed the fellow Tulane grad while running the Rays. Gomes' journey to GM lasted only six years, and the born-and-raised Red Sox fan doesn't turn 40 until July.
Rival organizations have inquired about interviewing Gomes for openings ranging from pitching coach to GM, but the next baseball operation he runs will be his first, so the Red Sox must decide if he's ready. Working in his favor: The Red Sox want to build an organization like L.A., and there's immense respect within ownership for Friedman.
3. Sam Fuld
Another candidate with local ties and playing experience is Fuld. A New Hampshire native and Stanford grad, Fuld spent eight years in the majors, including three with Tampa, twice stealing 20 bases.
Fuld has multiple Red Sox connections. Had Alex Cora not returned from his suspension to resume managing the team, Fuld likely would've been Bloom's choice for the dugout. He came highly recommended from the Phillies, where he had worked closely with former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler.
Instead, Fuld remained in Philly under ex-Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, serving as GM since December of 2020. Like Gomes, he has never run a baseball operations group before, but he has been a part of some excellent teams in Philadelphia, and he'd bring a wide range of experience to the job.
4. Mike Elias
The general manager and executive vice president of the Orioles probably isn't going anywhere, and it's not even clear he'd be the best fit for Boston, given his slow build in Baltimore. But there's no denying the results, with miserable early years producing a player development machine and World Series contender.
The Orioles don't just churn out players, they boast the best prospects in the game, from catcher Adley Rutschman, to Rookie of the Year favorite Gunnar Henderson, to former No. 1 pick Jackson Holliday.
What they haven't done, and what's relevant to any Red Sox rebuild, is act aggressively outside the organization. Elias passed up an opportunity to improve last year's team at the deadline despite a wild card being within reach -- he in fact subtracted All-Star closer Jorge Lopez -- and all he added this winter were a couple of league-average veterans in second baseman Adam Frazier and right-hander Kyle Gibson.
The Red Sox technically could offer Elias a president position that would exceed his VP title in Baltimore, but it's fair to ask why he'd leave a team on the cusp of constant contention for one facing a far more uncertain future.
5. Carter Hawkins
A former catcher at Vanderbilt, where he was teammates with David Price, Hawkins spent more than a decade as a scout and executive with Cleveland before being named Cubs GM in 2021. Under former Red Sox executive Jed Hoyer, Hawkins has helped rebuild the Cubs on the fly, from 71 wins two years ago to 78 and a potential playoff berth today.
He's considered skilled at bridging the gap between the clubhouse and analytics, but like some others on this list, Hawkins lacks experience as the head man. It's also fair to wonder what he has heard about working for the Red Sox from the former Boston execs in the Chicago front office.