At the San Diego airport, a stunned Chaim Bloom tried to process the reality of the Red Sox without Xander Bogaerts - The Boston Globe

At the San Diego airport, a stunned Chaim Bloom tried to process the reality of the Red Sox without Xander Bogaerts – The Boston Globe

All Bloom could do was watch.

The group of about eight Red Sox executives and front desk workers, including assistant general manager Mike Groopman, slumped into the Sky Club’s blue leather chairs, scrolling through their phones. Bloom, the Sox frontman, wore a light green zip-up fleece with blue pants and dark brown shoes.

Appearing in a bad mood, trying to make sense of the idea that Bogaerts would be a Padre, Bloom needed time to collect his thoughts. The Red Sox knew a deal with the Padres was likely, that their six-year, $160 million offer to Bogaerts was no match for the Padres, a team that has shown a willingness to pay — or overpay – stars over the years.

“Give me a minute,” Bloom said.

The minute turned into two. Then came a brief walk to Gate 37A, where Delta Flight 1108 began boarding.

“Give me a minute,” Bloom repeated, staring off into space in isolation, no longer looking at her phone.

How could he patch this one together? How was Bloom able to make sense of this loss so soon after it happened? As inexplicable as it seemed 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 made no apologies for it. The Red Sox were also well above the luxury tax.

But Bogaerts was different. The Sox were subject to the luxury tax. They had money to spend and Bogaerts said every time he wanted to stay with the Red Sox. The local shortstop who exceeded expectations never wanted to leave until he had no choice.

“I hope we find something,” Bogaerts said in his locker on the last day of the 2022 season.

About 30 minutes before takeoff, Bloom had watched enough.

“Everyone is sad that he’s not in the organization,” Bloom said. “We are incredibly grateful to him. For all he has done here and what he has helped this organization achieve.

Bloom’s voice was shaking. The Red Sox’s plan to achieve long-term sustainability 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 pivot franchise players leave in the past four offseasons.

“We make business decisions, but that doesn’t change the emotions that come with something,” Bloom said. “And even for me, who haven’t worked with Xander for as long as a lot of people here, they’re real.”

The deal that will carry Bogaerts through his 41-year-old season is important, but there were three or four other teams that would also be willing to top the $200 million mark for Bogaerts.

Bloom’s biggest misstep came in the spring, when the Red Sox offered Bogaerts a four-year, $90 million deal.

Prior to Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, Bogaerts was asked if he would be willing to sign an extension much like he did at the start of the 2019 season, and the shortstop offered an answer in one word: “Nah.”

Bloom then had to fight with other teams in the open market for Bogaerts, a fight he lost by knockout.

“It’s part of the game,” Bloom said, “but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

The human side of Bloom’s oft-protected public persona took shape inside San Diego International Airport on Wednesday.

He rubbed the corner of his lips as he stared into nothingness. He sometimes looked shocked.

Was he considering how he could reset so his Sox could be competitive in a formidable division? Was he considering the backlash that will undoubtedly follow from a fan base that has already grown cold to him? Was he embarrassed?

“I expect the fans to be hurt,” Bloom said. “I fully expect that, and I also expect that we’re going to put this together and give them winning baseball. It’s going to be a little different than it would have been with Xander. But it’s going to happen and it’s going to happen. It’s up to us to show them. It’s our job. Thanks for sharing.”

Bloom started walking towards Gate 37A. He took his place in first class, a window seat. He collapsed. He nodded, looking deeply into his phone again, perhaps trying to distract himself from a reality that cut him deeply. A truth, perhaps, too stammering. Too much to bear on a 5:30 flight.

Bloom, despite the clammy feeling on the plane, was still wearing her fleece.

His mind was in Boston, where the winter could be cold.

Learn more about the Red Sox at the Winter Meetings

Julian McWilliams can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.

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