Red Sox pick up club options on manager Alex Cora for 2023 and 2024 seasons

The Red Sox have ensured that Alex Cora will be remaining in Boston for the foreseeable future, as the team announced on Monday that they have exercised the manager’s club options for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Cora, 46, became manager of the Red Sox for a second time last November, replacing Ron Roenicke after serving a one-year suspension during the 2020 campaign.

At that time, Cora signed a two-year contract that ran through 2022 and included two club options. Since those options have been picked up, it is now essentially a four-year pact.

In his first year back at the helm in Boston, Cora led the Sox to a 92-70 record in 2021 while overseeing a team that won the American League Wild Card Game, the American League Division Series, and was just two wins shy of another World Series appearance.

“I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to manage the Red Sox,” Cora said in a statement released by the team. “We experienced so many special moments as a team and as a city in 2021, but we still have unfinished business to take care of. I am excited about the current state of our organization and eager to continue my work with our front office, coaches, players, and everyone who makes this such a special place.”

A veteran of 14 major-league seasons as a player, Cora was originally named the 47th manager in Red Sox history in Nov. 2017 and promptly led Boston to a franchise-best 108-54 record and a historic World Series title in 2018.

At the conclusion of a disappointing 84-78 2019 season, though, Cora was implicated for the role he played in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, thus resulting in him parting ways with the Red Sox in January 2020 and receiving a one-year suspension from Major League Baseball that April.

Despite being caught up in such a scandal, the Red Sox brought Cora back to replace his former bench coach in Roenicke once the Puerto Rican national’s one-year ban ended following the 2020 postseason.

By leading the Red Sox to a 92-70 record this year, Cora improved to 284-202 across three winning seasons (2018-2019, 2021) as the club’s manager. His .584 winning percentage is the highest among the 19 individuals to manage at least 400 games for the team.

Since the Red Sox exceeded preseason expectations and clinched a playoff berth for the first time in three years, Cora was recognized for his efforts by finishing fifth in American League Manager of the Year voting.

“Alex’s leadership of our staff and our players was critical to all that we accomplished in 2021,” Red Sox Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said. “Along with the entire Red Sox front office, I am excited for many years of continued partnership as we work together to bring another World Series trophy to Fenway Park.”

(Picture of Alex Cora: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox not ruling out reunion with Garrett Richards: ‘It’s certainly possible that something could line up,’ Chaim Bloom says

The Red Sox may have declined Garrett Richards’ club option for the 2022 season on Sunday, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has yet to rule out a potential reunion with the right-hander.

Richards, who originally signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Sox in February, had a $10 million team option for 2022 attached to that deal that the Sox needed to decide on by 5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday.

Boston ultimately chose against picking up Richards’ option, thus making the 33-year-old hurler a free agent who will be receiving $1.5 million in the form of a buyout.

Still, when speaking with reporters via a Zoom call on Sunday evening, Bloom spoke highly of Richards’ 2021 season when others might view it as a rather disappointing one.

“It’s funny,” Bloom said. “When I talked to Garrett to let him know, I made sure to compliment him and credit him by telling him how I feel, which is that he really turned around his season and, in many ways, saved ours with what he did once he got comfortable in the bullpen.”

Coming out of spring training, Richards opened the year as Boston’s No. 3 starter. After a rough 2021 debut against the Orioles on April 4, he proceeded to post a 3.14 ERA and 3.90 FIP to go along with 56 strikeouts to 30 walks over his next 11 starts and 63 innings of work from April 10 through June 6.

Beginning in mid-June, however, Major League Baseball began to crack down on pitchers using foreign substances in order to enhance their grip on baseballs. Richards wound up getting caught up in this crackdown, and it negatively affected his performance on the mound.

From June 11 until August 8, Richards struggled to the tune of a 7.15 ERA and 6.94 FIP with 29 strikeouts and 16 walks over his next 10 starts (45 1/3 innings pitched) before being removed from Boston’s starting rotation and relegated to the bullpen on Aug. 11.

As a reliever, Richards fared far in shorter burst, much to the delight of Bloom. The veteran righty put up a 3.42 ERA and 2.90 FIP while striking out nearly 25% of the batters he faced in 18 appearances and 26 1/3 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen.

“For a season in which he really struggled in a lot of ways, I think he also found a lot of success,” said Bloom. “Even before the switch to the bullpen, there was a period in the early start of the season where he was really rolling and really was a stabilizer for us. So, there were a lot of good things mixed in.”

In the postseason, Richards made Boston’s Wild Card Game roster and American League Division Series roster. He pitched a third of an inning in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Rays before suffering a left hamstring strain that forced the Red Sox to remove him from their roster and replace him with Matt Barnes.

Taking all those factors into consideration, the Sox, as Bloom explained on Sunday, felt as though it was not worth it for them to bring Richards back for the 2022 on what would essentially be a one-year, $10 million deal.

“We get to the end point with this decision, and we didn’t feel like it made sense to exercise the option,” Bloom said. “But, we’re going to stay in touch with him and it’s certainly possible that something could line up.”

Bloom, of course, is someone who likes to keep all doors open when it comes to constructing a big-league roster. And while it may be unclear at the moment if Richards — who turns 34 in May — is best suited to market himself as a starter or reliever, the Red Sox reuniting with the ISE Baseball client remains a possibility for now.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Red Sox pick up Christian Vázquez’s club option for 2022

The Red Sox have exercised catcher Christian Vazquez’s club option for the 2022 season, meaning the longest-tenured player in the organization will be returning for another year. The team made the move official earlier Sunday evening.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2008 amateur draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Vazquez signed a three-year, $13.55 million contract extension with Boston in March 2018.

That extension, which did not go into effect until the 2019 season, included a club option for a potential fourth year in 2022, though the value of the option was dependent on number of plate appearances.

Since Vazquez did not reach the necessary amount of plate appearances across the 2020 and 2021 campaigns, the value of his club option for 2022 decreased from $8 million to $7 million. That likely made it an even easier decision for the Red Sox to pick it up.

This past season, the 31-year-old backstop slashed .258/.308/.352 with 23 doubles, one triple, six home runs, 49 RBI, 51 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 84 strikeouts over 138 games spanning 498 trips to the plate.

While his offensive production may have dropped off from where it was in 2019 or 2020, Vazquez’s defense and ability to handle a pitching staff are still valuable. He threw out 18 of the 73 base runners who attempted to steal against him this season, for instance.

During Boston’s postseason run, the right-handed hitter out of Puerto Rico batted .281/.303/.406 with one double, one homer, six runs driven in, five runs scored, one walk, and seven strikeouts in 11 games — seven of which were starts.

His lone October home run was of the walk-off variety and came in the 13th inning of Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Rays at Fenway Park.

By retaining Vazquez’s services for 2022, the Red Sox have locked up their top catching option for another year. The 5-foot-9, 205 pounder helped Boston win a World Series title in 2018 and does not turn 32 until next August.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Red Sox decline Garrett Richards’ club option for 2022, per report

The Red Sox have declined Garrett Richards’ club option for the 2022 season, thus making the right-hander a free agent, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Richards, 33, originally signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with Boston back in February that included a $10 million team option for a potential second year in 2022.

Like Martin Perez, who also had his club option declined on Sunday, Richards opened the 2021 campaign in the Sox’ starting rotation. The veteran righty posted a 5.22 ERA and 5.15 FIP to go along with 87 strikeouts and 48 walks over 22 starts spanning 110 1/3 innings of work before being demoted to the bullpen on August 11.

As a reliever, Richards improved while working in shorter bursts, putting up a more impressive 3.42 ERA and 2.90 FIP with 28 punchouts to 12 walks in 18 appearances (26 1/3 innings pitched) out of the Boston bullpen.

In the postseason, Richards was named to the Sox’ Wild Card Game roster and American League Division Series rosters. He tossed one-third of an inning in Game 1 against the Rays on October 7 before suffering a left hamstring strain that forced him to come off the club’s ALDS roster and be replaced by Matt Barnes.

With the Red Sox declining his option, Richards — who turns 34 in May — will once again be hitting the open market. He will, however, be receiving $1.5 million in the form of a buyout.

By electing to not pick up the options on either of Perez’s or Richards’ contracts, the Sox now have one more option-related decision to make before 5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday with catcher Christian Vazquez and his $7 million team option for 2022 hanging in the balance.

On top of that, Boston must also decide if they will be extending an $18.4 million qualifying offer to any player who is eligible for one, such as free agent left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez or veteran slugger J.D. Martinez if he opts out of the final year of his contract.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox decline Martín Pérez’s club option for 2022, per report

The Red Sox have declined Martin Perez’s club option for the 2022 season, thus making the left-hander a free agent, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Perez, 30, initially re-signed with Boston on a one-year, $4.5 million deal for the 2021 season back in February, and that contract included a $6 million team option for 2022.

After opening the year, his second with the Sox, as the team’s fifth starter, Perez struggled to the tune of a 4.77 ERA and 4.91 FIP to go along with 85 strikeouts to 33 walks over 22 starts spanning exactly 100 innings of work.

In early August, the Red Sox moved Perez to their bullpen, where the Venezuelan southpaw posted a 4.50 ERA and 4.17 FIP with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 14 appearances (14 innings pitched) as a reliever. He also missed time late in the summer due to a bout with COVID-19.

During Boston’s postseason run last month, Perez was left off the club’s Wild Card Game roster against the Yankees, but was included on both the American League Division and Championship Series rosters. He was not used against the Rays, but did appear in four games against the Astros.

With the Red Sox declining his option, Perez — who turns 31 in April — will now hit the open market for the fourth consecutive off-season. It remains to be seen if Boston will entertain a reunion with the lefty, which is what they wound up doing last winter.

Last week, it was revealed earlier that the Perez had recently changed agencies, making the switch from OL Sports Group to Octagon.

Additionally, the Red Sox now owe Perez $500,000 in the form of a buyout and have more decisions to make by 5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday. Both right-hander Garrett Richards ($10 million) and catcher Christian Vazquez ($7 million) have club options for 2022 that either need to be picked up or declined.

On top of that, Boston must also decide to extend an $18.4 million qualifying offer to any player who is eligible for one, such as free agent left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez or veteran slugger J.D. Martinez if he opts out of the final year of his contract.

(Picture of Martin Perez: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Martín Pérez switches agencies with Red Sox expected to decline left-hander’s club option for 2022

Red Sox left-hander Martin Perez has switched agencies at a time where he could be headed towards free agency, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Perez, previously represented by Miami-based OL Baseball Group, recently made the switch to Octagon. The agency actually announced the move last month on Instagram.

The Red Sox have until this coming Sunday at 5 p.m. eastern time to decide whether they will accept or decline the $6 million club option attached to the one-year, $4.5 million deal they signed Perez to back in February.

This past season, his second with Boston, proved to be a turbulent one for Perez. After opening the year as the team’s fifth starter, the 30-year-old southpaw posted a 4.77 ERA and 4.91 FIP to go along with 85 strikeouts to 33 walks over 22 starts spanning 100 innings of work.

Since he was averaging fewer than five innings per start while proving to be ineffective throughout the months of June and July, Perez was moved to the Red Sox bullpen full-time beginning on August 6.

As a reliever, Perez was primarily used by manager Alex Cora in low-leverage situations. Still, the Venezuelan hurler put up a 4.50 ERA and 4.17 FIP with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 14 innings pitched out of the bullpen to close out the season. He also missed time from Aug. 30 until September 14 on account of testing positive for COVID-19.

In the postseason, Perez was left off Boston’s roster for the Wild Card Game against the Yankees, but made both the American League Division Series and Championship Series rosters.

While Perez did not appear in the Sox’ four-game triumph of the Rays, he was used on four separate occasions against the Astros, allowing a total of five runs — four of which were earned — on six hits, four walks, and zero strikeouts over three total innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 12.00.

All told, it seems unlikely that the Red Sox will pick up Perez’s team option for next season, which is exactly what they did around this same time last year as well.

Instead, if they do indeed allow the lefty to hit the open marker for the fourth consecutive off-season, Boston will then owe Perez $500,000 in the form of a buyout.

Again, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have until Sunday to make up their mind on this. The same can be said for right-hander Garrett Richards ($10 million) and catcher Christian Vazquez ($7 million), who also have club options that need to be decided on by the end of the weekend.

(Picture of Martin Perez: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox decline to pick up Martín Pérez’s 2021 option, making left-hander a free agent

The Red Sox have declined left-hander Martin Perez’s team option for the 2021 season, therefore making him a free agent, the club announced earlier Sunday evening.

Perez, who would have been in line to earn $6.85 million next season if his club option had been picked up, now hits the open market as one of the more intriguing southpaws available.

The 29-year-old posted a 4.50 ERA and .744 OPS against over 12 starts and 62 innings pitched in his first season with Boston after a signing a one-year deal last December.

Outside of a poor 2020 finale in which he yielded six runs to the Orioles on September 24, Perez proved to be one of, if not the most consistent starter on the Sox’ pitching staff.

Despite receiving that level of consistency when the team’s pitching was, for the most part, dismal all year, Boston did not reward the Venezuelan hurler by picking up his option.

Instead, as previously mentioned, Perez is now a free agent for the second time in 12 months.

Perhaps chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will look to bring the lefty back on a cheaper deal, but even if they do not, rotation additions and/or upgrades are still likely to happen regardless.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Perez becoming a free agent lowers the Red Sox’ current projected 2021 payroll down to $167.175 million, which as of now is well below the $210 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold.

Additionally, Perez hitting the open market now means that the Sox have 36 players on their 40-man roster, so there is plenty of space to work with on both of those fronts.