The Los Angeles Dodgers still remain baseball's gold standard even though their lone World Series since 1988 came during the shortened 2020 campaign. Their playoff struggles do not reflect the work Andrew Friedman and his front office have conducted since 2015.
As it stands, the Dodgers are the only franchise that's been able to swipe a small-market executive and blend two very different philosophies. Friedman, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, was tasked with finding hidden gems when he was operating as head honcho of the club. The Rays especially didn't spend when he was there, so his job was infinitely more difficult without the necessary financial resources at his disposal.
In LA, he's kept that same mindset, but has been able to throw money around for the right star players. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman will end up representing the two biggest wins of the decade. Shohei Ohtani is hopefully next.
He's made countless blockbuster trades without setting the Dodgers' future back. He acquired Betts, Manny Machado, Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, and the farm system remains one of the best in MLB.
In between, he's plucked plenty of promising players off the scrap heap, including Max Muncy, Tyler Anderson, Chris Taylor and Blake Treinen. He signed countless players on the international market, including Kenta Maeda and Diego Cartaya. He drafted guys like Walker Buehler, Bobby Miller, Gavin Lux, Will Smith, Michael Busch and Connor Wong (who was traded for Betts).
It's a wholesome, well-rounded approach. The Boston Red Sox thought they could execute the same strategy when they signed Chaim Bloom away from the Rays after the 2019 season, but his tenure with the organization ended Thursday.
Red Sox firing Chaim Bloom further proves nobody can replicate Dodgers' blueprint
The only difference was that Friedman inherited a better situation/ownership. Bloom, despite being pidgeonholed by the Red Sox ownership group, also failed to do a good job. Yes, he was forced to trade Betts, but he got a bad return. He gave up premature contract extensions to Matt Barnes and Garrett Whitlock. He paid Trevor Story $140 million. He got out-bid for Xander Bogaerts after lowballing him the offseason prior. He traded Christian Vazquez and hurt team chemistry. He let Nathan Eovaldi and Kyle Schwarber walk. He's been unable to field a capable starting rotation.
The list goes on. All in all, that's far too many missteps for a shot-caller in a big market. Off the top of your head, Friedman's only errors were Trevor Bauer, trading Oneil Cruz and Yordan Alvarez, and, depending upon the viewpoint, letting Corey Seager and Trea Turner leave in free agency. Even then, the Dodgers managed to survive and thrive despite some toxic additions and difficult departures.
The Red Sox? One playoff appearance since their 2018 World Series triumph over the Dodgers. They could finish with three losing seasons and three last-place finishes over that span, too, pending the next two weeks of action.
Though Friedman was much more fortunate than Bloom when he defected from the Rays, there's no doubt he's been successful in all facets when it comes to building a roster. Bloom was supposed to represent a semblance of that and all he has to show for it is one flukey ALCS run in 2021.
Who will be the next team to try and copy the Dodgers only to see it fail?