With the World Series between the Dodgers and Rays set to begin Tuesday night, we now know the 2020 Major League Baseball season will end within the next 5-9 days. And by the time this year’s Fall Classic comes to a close, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s one-year suspension will be over.
Cora, who turned 45 on Sunday, was handed down a one-year ban by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred back in April for the role he played in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal while serving as the club’s bench coach under A.J. Hinch. That punishment did not have to do with his actions as Red Sox manager in 2018.
That being said, Cora could be the top candidate to return to his old post by the end of this month or the beginning of November.
Think about it like this: The Red Sox announced on September 27 that Ron Roenicke would not return as manager for the 2021 season. Since that time, there have been no real legitimate rumors; no real legitimate leaks to go off of in the club’s search for a new manager.
Plenty of candidates have been thrown out there, some who even interviewed for the job earlier this year like Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay or Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta, but none have been closely linked to the opening.
When Boston parted ways with Roenicke last month, the club released a statement that read in part: “A search for a new manager will begin immediately.”
It’s been just over four weeks since the Sox’ search for a new manager began, and we have yet to really hear how said search is going. This could potentially mean one of two things. First, it could mean the Red Sox are putting forth their best effort to prevent any leaks and keep everything in-house, which would be commendable if it were the case. Second, it could mean that they are waiting until the World Series ends, when they can officially speak with Cora.
MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and Christopher Smith touched upon this in the most recent installment of the Fenway Rundown podcast earlier this month, and among the bevy of quality points that were made, one that stuck out pertained to the lack of leaks.
“It’s been nothing. There’s not even a ‘The Red Sox are assembling a list,'” Cotillo said. “In contrast, you look up at Detroit and Al Avila, their GM, said ‘Alex Cora and A.J. Hinch are on my list’, which means they aren’t going to make their hires until they can talk to these guys.
“If the Red Sox managerial search was heating up at this point, it would point to Alex Cora not being the guy,” Cotillo added. “There’s zero indication through 10 days that they’ve really done any groundwork. Every day that passes with little news, you can give [chief baseball officer] Chaim [Bloom] and his crew, as Ron Roenicke liked to say, a lot of credit for keeping it close to the vest. And maybe they’re making progress, but to me, it says they’re not going to really dive into this thing until they can talk to Cora.”
This was also mentioned on the podcast, which I highly suggest listening to, but it carries a lot of weight in that Cora is the perfect candidate for this job for one simple reason: He’s already done it.
“There are plenty of guys who aren’t even being talked about that could be similar to Alex Cora’s personality,” Smith said.
“But, if you’re going to bring in someone similar, why not bring in the guy that everybody knows and everybody wants, is familiar with and knows how to win in this market, and knows how to deal with the media and all the scrutiny?,” asked Cotillo in response to that.
It’s true. Because of what he has already accomplished as the manager of the Red Sox, Cora should be the favorite to return to Boston just months after his dismissal.
The decision to bring Cora back might not be the most popular around the sport given his past actions, but considering how he seemingly gets the most out of his players, like Rafael Devers and Eduardo Rodriguez, while also having established a solid relationship with Bloom already, it might just be the best one to make from the Red Sox’ point of view.
Whether Bloom and the rest of the Sox brass agree with that notion will presumably depend on how things unfold in the days following the Rays’ or Dodgers’ World Series victory.