Craig Breslow, the new chief baseball officer of the Boston Red Sox, will take part in MLB’s annual General Managers Meetings this week in Arizona. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Craig Breslow isn’t the general manager of the Boston Red Sox. In fact, they don’t have one yet.

Breslow, officially introduced as chief baseball officer of the team last week, said he would take his time finding the right “thought partner” to take the No. 2 spot in the organization’s baseball operations department.

General managers used to run those departments. Not anymore. Now teams have a president of baseball operations. Or a chief baseball officer. Baseball ops departments now feature hundreds of employees and the GM is second in command.

Yet it is MLB’s annual General Managers Meetings that are Breslow’s first real act as Boston’s baseball boss. Executives from around the game have gathered in Arizona to discuss the state of the game, and begin the process of building a contender for 2024.

For Breslow, that process begins by building a front office. He inherited a staff of experienced leaders – many of whom have been here since Breslow wore the uniform as a left-handed reliever. The fact that the new boss hasn’t named a GM is a clear indication that the front office he inherited isn’t necessarily the one that will be here come Opening Day next spring. Just don’t expect any massive overhaul to be coming soon.

“Certainly there will be difficult conversations coming,” Breslow said when he appeared with me and Lenny DiNardo on NESN last week. “I think its important to get fresh perspective and turnover at times can bring that, but I also think that its important to be very deliberate and intentional in how you approach those things. … There are people who have been here for a very long time and have been successful for very long time and I think the best approach I can take is to try to understand the current landscape before making sweeping change.”


Fans are far more interested in seeing sweeping change on the field. The Red Sox are coming off consecutive last-place finishes and are welcoming a new top baseball executive to the corner office for the fourth time in 11 years.

It’s no secret the Red Sox need to overhaul their pitching. From top to bottom. As we’ve said time and again, a team has to be willing to spend and accept risk if it is going to invest in big-time arms. Breslow was credited in overhauling a Cubs system that was sorely lacking in talent on the mound. He readily agreed that pitching – specifically starting pitching – was Boston’s biggest area of concern.

“To develop a pitching talent pipeline takes time, intentional focus, and also takes risk,” said Breslow. “I don’t think it’s a secret there is a really, really exciting position player core that’s emerging, and there’s possibility we’re going to have to create greater symmetry in the organization by using some of those players to get pitching in return.”

There you have it. Under Chaim Bloom, the Sox built up one of the most robust farm systems in the game. Now Breslow and his staff are going to have to figure out who is part of the future here, and who is going to be used as an asset in trades.

There are plenty of talented pitchers available on the free-agent market, but many more available for the right package of prospects. If Breslow can be bold he flip future potential for immediate impact.

The ability to augment big-time free-agent signings with shrewd trades was a hallmark of the Red Sox when Breslow was pitching in Boston. Now he’ll try to rebuild that standard as the head of baseball operations, and rebuild the trust of Red Sox fans.

That process begins this week at the GM Meetings. Even if the Red Sox don’t have a GM just yet.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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