All Bloom could do was stare.
A group of eight or so Red Sox executives and front office staff, including assistant general manager Mike Gruppman, leaned back in the sky club’s blue leather chairs and scrolled through their phones. Bloom, the Sox leader, wore a pale green zip-up sweater with blue pants and dark brown shoes.
Appearing strangely trying to wrap his mind around the idea of Bogarts being a padre, Bloom needed a moment to collect his thoughts. While the Red Sox knew a deal with the Padres was possible, their six-year, $160 million offer for Bogarts was not matched by the Padres, who have shown a willingness to pay or overpay stars over the years.
“Give me a minute,” Bloom said.
The minute turned to two. Then came a short walk to Gate 37A, where Delta Flight 1108 began boarding.
“Give me a minute,” Bloom repeated, staring off into space in solitude, no longer looking at her phone.
How could he put this together? How did Bloom come to terms with this loss so quickly? As inexplicable at the time, the Mookie Betts trade was a move Bloom could defend. Betts was adamant about testing the free agent market. He wanted to get his fair market value and wasn’t apologetic about it. The Red Sox were more than a luxury line.
But Bogarts was different. Socks were under the luxury line. They had money to spend, and at every turn Bogarts said he wanted to stay with the Red Sox. The home movie defies expectations and doesn’t want to leave anyone with no choice.
“Hopefully, we find something,” Bogarts said at his locker on the final day of the 2022 season.
About 30 minutes before takeoff, Bloom had had enough of staring.
“Everybody’s sad that he’s not going to be a part of the organization,” Bloom said. “We’re incredibly grateful to him for everything he’s accomplished here and what he’s contributed to this organization.
Bloom’s voice shook. The Red Sox’s plan to achieve long-term stability has taken its toll under Bloom, with the club finishing last in the American League East in two of the past three seasons. The Sox have now seen two cornerstone franchise players depart in the last four seasons.
“We make business decisions, but that doesn’t replace the emotions that come with something,” Bloom said. “Even to me who hasn’t worked with Xander as long as there are a lot of people here, they’re real.”
The deal that takes Bogaards through his age-41 season is big, but three or four teams are reportedly willing to go above $200 million for Bogaards.
Bloom’s biggest mistake was discovered in the spring, when the Red Sox offered Bogarts a $90 million contract over four years.
Before Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, Bogaerts was asked if he would be open to signing an extension like he did at the start of the 2019 season, and the shortstop offered a one-word answer: “No.”
Bloom had to fight other teams on the open market for Bogarts, a fight he lost by knockout.
“It’s part of the game, but that doesn’t make it any easier,” Bloom said.
The human side of Bloom’s often guarded public persona emerged Wednesday inside San Diego International Airport.
He licked the corner of his lips as he stared into nothingness. He sometimes looked shocked.
Has he considered how his Sox can reset to compete in a tougher division? Has he considered the backlash from a fan base that has undoubtedly already cooled on him? Is he embarrassed?
“I expect the fans to suffer,” Bloom said. “I fully expect that and we’re going to put it together and give them baseball success. It’s going to be a little different than it was with Xander. But it’s going to happen and it’s up to us to show them. That’s our job. Thanks for sharing.”
Bloom started walking towards Gate 37A. He sat in a window seat in first class. He bowed. He nodded, looking deeply at his phone again, perhaps trying to distract himself from a reality that cut deep. A fact that, perhaps, is more in its infancy. Hard to bear on a 5½ hour flight.
Bloom, despite feeling wet on the plane, kept his wool on.
His mind was on Boston, where it might be a cold winter.
More on the Red Sox during the winter meetings
Julian McWilliams can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Devoted analyst. Total alcohol scholar. Infuriatingly humble food trailblazer.”