Red Sox Part Ways With Alex Cora

The Red Sox and manager Alex Cora have mutually agreed to part ways, per a team release.

This news comes in the wake of the Houston Astros firing general manager Jeff Lunhow and manager AJ Hinch on Monday after both were handed down one-year suspensions by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for the roles they played in Houston’s sign-stealing scandal during the 2017 season.

Cora, who served as Hinch’s bench coach in 2017, played a key role in, “developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit sign,” according to Manfred.

Because of this, the Astros were stripped of their 2020 and 2021 first and second-round picks and fined $5 million.

Although Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Red Sox’ use of illegally decoding signs through the club’s video replay room during the 2018 season is still ongoing, it is believed that Cora is facing ‘harsh’ discipline, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

In his two seasons at the helm with Boston, Cora led the Sox to a historic 119-win season capped off by the club clinching their ninth World Series title in 2018 and followed that with a sub-par 84-win campaign last year.

“I want to thank John, Tom, Sam, the players, our coaching staff and the entire Red Sox organization,” Cora said in a statement Tuesday. “I especially want to thank my family for their love and support.

“I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward,” added Cora. My two years as manager were the best years of my life. It was an honor to manage these teams and help bring a World Series Championship back to Boston. I will forever be indebted to the organization and the fans who supported me as a player, a manager and in my efforts to help Puerto Rico.

“This is a special place. There is nothing like it in all of baseball, and I will miss it dearly,” he concluded.

Now just about a month out from when pitchers and catchers are due to report in at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Sox ownership and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom have found themselves in quite the predicament with no manager currently in place.

Ron Roenicke, who served as Cora’s bench coach the last two seasons and has managerial experience with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011 until 2015, is an obvious candidate. He is scheduled to attend Red Sox Winter Weekend at MGM Springfield.

In a span of four months, the Red Sox have parted ways with both the architect and leader of their 2018 World Series-winning team in Dave Dombrowski and Cora.

Now, as the 2020 season looms, turbulent times may be on the horizon with plenty of decisions still to make.

Rays Granted Permission by Major League Baseball to ‘Explore Possibility’ of Playing Split-Season Between Tampa Bay and Montreal

Per ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan, the Tampa Bay Rays have been granted permission from Major League Baseball’s executive council to look into playing their home games at two different venues in the same season. The plan would involve earlier home games taking place in the Tampa Bay area before the rest are played in Montreal, Canada.

Major League Baseball confirmed this news in a tweet earlier Thursday.

The specific number of games played in each city has yet to be determined, Passan notes, but new stadiums would be built in both Tampa Bay and Montreal.

The Rays’ current lease with Tropicana Field runs through the 2027 season. Back in December, at the baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas, principal owner Stuart Sternberg announced that plans to build a new ballpark in the neighboring Ybor City would not be finalized, meaning that aforementioned lease would seemingly run its course.

But, with this most recent announcement, it appears that the Rays’ brass believes that a two-city approach is the best way to preserve Major League Baseball in that part of Florida.

As things stand right now, Tampa Bay, despite sporting the fourth-best record in the American League at 43-31, are pulling in an average of 14,545 people per home game, the second-worst attendance mark in all of baseball.

The team’s 2019 Opening Day payroll of just over $62 million was one of the lowest among the 30 clubs as well.

The idea of bringing baseball back to Quebec has long been there, that much is clear with how a pair of exhibition games hosted by the Toronto Blue Jays has been played at Olympic Stadium since 2014.

Last homing a Major League Baseball team in 2004, before the Expos were relocated to Washington, D.C., Montreal has been clamoring to get the sport back on a full-time basis.

Although that does not seem to be the case at the moment, it will be interesting to see how these discussions pan out and when they will come into effect. Stadiums take a decent amount of time to build, so I can’t imagine the Rays will be playing any of their home games outside of the Trop anytime soon.