Chaim Bloom and Alex Cora will be back with Red Sox next season, Sam Kennedy says

The Red Sox have no plans to move on from either chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom or manager Alex Cora this winter, team president and CEO Sam Kennedy told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal on Monday.

“I am very comfortable saying Chaim and Alex will be back,” Rosenthal said. “And I am very comfortable saying there is a strong belief in the direction of the franchise from our ownership group. That direction is continuing to build for the future, but also continuing to invest at the major-league level.”

Coming into play on Monday with a record of 62-66, the last-place Red Sox currently sit 16 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East and seven games back of the Blue Jays for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

This comes less than a year after Boston was only two games away from a World Series berth. So to say the 2022 season has been a disappointment would be an understatement.

“To be looking up at the American League East at this point of the year is painful and frustrating,” said Kennedy. “And frankly we deserve the criticism we’re getting. We’ve got to own that. It’s on us. But we’ve been around here a long time and we’re prepared to turn things around quickly here as we head into [2023].”

While both Bloom and Cora have been subjected to their fair share of criticism in recent weeks, neither are in contractual jeopardy. As noted by Rosenthal, the Red Sox exercised Cora’s club option for the 2023 and 2024 seasons back in November.

Bloom, meanwhile, was named Boston’s chief baseball officer in October 2019 and is now in the third year “of a long-term deal of at least four years,” according to Rosenthal.

Injuries have hindered the Red Sox throughout the season. Free agency will be a major focal point in the off-season. J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Tommy Pham, Enrique Hernandez, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, Matt Strahm, and Kevin Plawecki are all eligible to hit the open market this winter. Xander Bogaerts could join them if he elects to opt out of his contract.

Star third baseman Rafael Devers has emerged as one of the top young hitters in the American League but is only club control through the end of the 2023 season. Per Rosenthal, Red Sox officials “continue to say they want to retain both Bogaerts and Devers, homegrown talents who have proven they can succeed in Boston.”

With only $91.97 million committed to the 2023 payroll at the moment, Kennedy believes the Red Sox can use their financial flexibility and prospect capital to get back on track and return to more competitive baseball next year.

“I see us continuing to invest across the entire organization, at the major-league level, throughout our baseball operations. This group is hungry for another World Series championship,” Kennedy Said. “The whole group is outstanding. I know we’re in a tough spot right now. But we have a lot of flexibility going into this off-season. I’m really excited to see what we’re going to do with that flexibility and the resources we have.”

(Picture of Chaim Bloom and Alex Cora: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘lobbying hard’ for MLB All-Star Game to return to Fenway Park, Sam Kennedy says

The Red Sox would like to host the MLB All-Star Game sometime in the not-so-distant future, team CEO and president Sam Kennedy said when speaking with reporters at JetBlue Park on Tuesday.

“We are lobbying hard at the Major League Baseball level,” said Kennedy. “I think we’re finally coming up in the rotation at some point here. 1999 was amazing. That was just an incredible night so we’d love to have the All-Star Game back.”

As Kennedy pointed out, the Red Sox last hosted the All-Star Game at Fenway Park in 1999, when MLB honored its All-Century team. According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the club would like to bring the Midsummer Classic back to Boston within the next five years.

“The Sox are aggressively pushing for the Midsummer Classic to come back to Boston in the coming years, multiple sources said, and have had discussions with Major League Baseball about doing so,” Cotillo wrote on Tuesday. “Word is that two specific years — 2025 and 2027 — are on the club’s radar.”

Why 2025 and 2027? Well, MLB has already determined where three of the next five All-Star Games will be. Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium will host the game this summer while Seattle’s T-Mobile Park will do so next year.

The 2024 slot remains available, though Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park will host the keystone event in 2026 to mark the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

With that, the Red Sox do have some options when it comes to hosting the game, though Kennedy reiterated Tuesday that the team would prefer it returns to Boston sooner rather than later.

“ASAP,” Kennedy said when asked about a potential year. “When it’s available, when it works for Major League Baseball, we’d love to be considered.”

Since it first opened in 1912, Fenway Park has hosted the All-Star Game on three separate occasions: 1946, 1961, and 1999. The city of Boston, on the other hand, has hosted four Midsummer Classics since the 1936 installment was held at Braves Field — which was then called National League Park.

(Picture of Fenway Park: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Matt Barnes on challenges 2021 season could present: ‘Guys know exactly what to expect. That adjustment period of a pandemic is over’

It goes without saying that the 2020 Major League Baseball was unlike any in the sport’s history on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States

Limited to just 60 regular season games with no fans in the stands and plenty of health and safety protocols, players opting out, outbreak scares, and a postseason bubble, the 2020 season being completed was no sure thing.

The season did end on schedule, however, and nearly six months later, players are once again preparing to embark on another campaign that will surely be affected by the pandemic one way or the other.

This time around, though, the players at least have some familiarity with the coronavirus and the protocols it has created working in their favor. That was not the case at all last summer.

“I think one of the hard things about last year was there was so much uncertainty with the pandemic,” Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes told WEEI’s Will Flemming during the team’s live Truck Day stream earlier Monday afternoon. “Going into the season this year, guys know exactly what to expect. That adjustment period of a pandemic is over. Guys are anxious. Guys are excited.”

The Red Sox are slated to begin spring training next week, with pitchers and catchers reporting to the JetBlue Park complex on February 17 and full squad workouts starting on February.

Among the players the 30-year-old Barnes has seen so far are Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Darwinzon Hernandez, Martin Perez, and Nick Pivetta.

Boston’s first Grapefruit League game will come against the Pirates in Fort Myers on February 27. Fans will be allowed to attend games at JetBlue, but the ballpark will only be operating at 24% capacity to allow for proper social distancing measures.

Even with those limits in mind, having fans in the stands should serve as a dose of normalcy for players such as Barnes, who experienced the entirety of the 2020 season in empty ballparks — including Fenway Park — since the Red Sox did not make it to the postseason.

“Fenway’s a special place to play, it really is,” said Barnes. “From just getting to go out to Fenway Park, where so many greats have had the opportunity to play and win world championships… When you see it empty, it’s just different. It’s just not the same. One of the things that gives us an edge at home is our fans and their ability to be loud and make it an intimidating place to play for opposing teams. I’m hoping that we can get as many fans as we can safely this year. I don’t know what the plan is for that, but the fans are definitely missed. It’s not the same playing at Fenway without them.”

While the veteran right-hander may not know what the plan is for having fans in the stands at Fenway in 2021, Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy shed some light on that topic during a virtual town hall event last week.

“We’d love to host fans if the health and safety experts up here and the government officials say it’s okay,” Kennedy told NESN’s Tom Caron this past Thursday. “We have a plan to host fans in a socially distanced environment with all sorts of requirements for masks and hand sanitizing, things like that. We’ve seen around the country, it works, at different venues. We’re hoping to have that but we have not engaged with the state of Massachusetts or the city of Boston… It’s our sincere hope to have fans back at Fenway as early as Opening Day. We’re cautiously optimistic, but again, that is not our decision.”

That decision, as it turns out, is up to the medical community, health experts, and local city and state officials, Kennedy said.

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chaim Bloom on Dustin Pedroia’s retirement press conference: ‘Every young player who comes into our organization should watch this, and just see how he talks about how he got after his craft’

Earlier this week, Dustin Pedroia retired from baseball after 17 years with the Red Sox organization.

The 37-year-old infielder took approximately 37 minutes to field questions from reporters during a Zoom press conference on Monday. And while he said it will likely be a while before he considers a return to baseball in a full-time, non-playing capacity, it appears that his words could already be making an impact on the Red Sox.

That being the case because in his presser, Pedroia spoke of the way he approached everyday of his baseball career from the time he was a young child until the time he was a veteran big-leaguer.

“There was a reason why I was the first one dressed at 5:30 for a 7 o’clock game,” Pedroia said Monday. “The biggest thing in my mind was, ‘This could be my last game. You don’t know.’ And that’s the way I approached it from Little League on. I played every game like it was my last one. I had the best time playing… I never took one play off from Little League on.”

These words, as well as plenty of others from the former American League MVP resonated with many, including Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. He said as much himself during a virtual town hall event earlier Thursday afternoon.

“If you didn’t get a chance to watch his press conference, go watch it,” Bloom said of Pedroia. “I was watching this and I said, ‘Every young player who comes into our organization should watch this, and just see how he talks about how he got after his craft.’ That’s what we want from every young player. The things he cares about: preparing, working hard, being the best teammate and winning. That’s really what it’s all about.”

As far as the role Bloom and Co. envision for Pedroia in the future, the CBO said that topic was one of the first topics touched upon when the two sides discussed how the four-time All-Star’s career would come to a close.

“It’s still early, and as he said really eloquently in his press conference, he’s going to prioritize family, and especially those three boys, right now,” stated Bloom. “But, as we were navigating this retirement, we started the conversation with him. He knows we want him to be involved. It’s really a question of figuring out what works for him in a way that’s going to be really productive for the organization.”

Now that Pedroia has retired, the Red Sox would obviously like to celebrate the longtime second baseman’s career in ceremonial fashion at Fenway Park this coming season.

The only thing preventing that from happening is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which will presumably place a limit on how many fans can attend Red Sox home games in 2021.

“We will absolutely appropriately celebrate Pedey,” team president and CEO Sam Kennedy said of the club’s plans to honor Pedroia. “But, we have to do it when we have a packed house, or at least have some fans back. He deserves that, and I know fans want to see him.

“I just would echo exactly what Chaim said,” Kennedy continued. “What an incredible role model, spokesperson, someone you want to try and emulate. If you have a young person playing any sport, the work ethic, the commitment, the passion, you can’t teach that. He was an original. Such an important part of everything that’s gone on here the past 20 years. Really looking forward to the day when we can welcome him into the organization in some capacity. But, I don’t think it will be for a while. I think he really wants to be home and be with his family, and he’s privileged to be in a position to do that. So, we’ll be patient.

For now, Pedroia — even without taking on a full-time role within the organization — will still play an important part for Boston moving forward in 2021 and beyond.

Just ask Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

“He’ll be facetiming a lot of people. We know that,” Cora said with a smirk. “He’s still going to be a presence, obviously. With everything that is going on, whenever we get him back at Fenway it’s going to be a fun day. He will always be welcome. Nonstop texting, calling people, helping players out. He’s going to be a big part of what we are trying to accomplish not only this year but the upcoming years… This guy, the last two years, three years, has been very important to the program, and that’s not going to change.”

(Picture of Dustin Pedroia: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia announces retirement from baseball after 14 big-league seasons

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has announced his retirement from the game of baseball, the team announced earlier Monday.

Pedroia, 37, spent 14 major-league seasons with Boston and 17 with the organization as a whole after being selected by the club in the second round of the 2004 amateur draft out of Arizona State University.

The Woodland, Calif. native won three World Series titles with the Sox in addition to being named American League Rookie of the Year in 2007 and American League MVP in 2008. He also won one Silver Slugger award, four Gold Glove Awards, and was named to four American League All-Star teams.

Across 1,512 games in a Red Sox uniform from 2006-2019, Pedroia accrued a .299/.365/.439 slash line to go along with 140 home runs, 725 RBI, and 138 stolen bases over 6,777 career plate appearances.

Injuries had hindered Pedroia’s time on the field recently, though, as he had appeared in just nine games dating back to Opening Day 2018 on account of undergoing three separate knee surgeries.

Even while sidelined, however, Pedroia’s passion for the game — and to help his team — remained.

“Through championships and injuries, Dustin’s disciplined approach never wavered,” Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said. “His work ethic is incomparable, and we saw him attack his rehab during the last chapter of his career with the same intensity he approached the batter’s box in his prime. I know hanging up his spikes is not an easy decision for a competitor of his caliber. We are fortunate to have had him in a Red Sox uniform for so long and look forward to welcoming him back to Fenway Park to celebrate his career.”

Among all-time franchise leaders, Pedroia ranks 11th in games played, 10th in runs scored (988), eighth in hits (1,805), sixth in doubles (394), and sixth in stolen bases.

Listed at just 5-foot-9 and 170 lbs., Pedroia played with a certain kind of passion that enthralled those around him; teammates, coaches, and fans alike.

Whether it be hustling down the line, sprawling for a hard-hit groundball, or coming up with a clutch, late-inning hit, “the Laser Show” was as captivating as they come.

“From the first day we shared the field until today, the love, passion and enthusiasm for the game has not changed,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Pedroia, his teammate from 2006-2008. “It has been a pleasure to watch you grow as a player, teammate, husband and father. You have impacted our organization like few others and I live proud of you.”

Pedroia, who was entering the final year of the eight-year, $110 million contract extension he signed with Boston in 2013, will still receive the $12 million he was due to make in 2021.

A press conference regarding Pedroia’s announcement will begin at approximately 1:30 p.m. eastern time Monday afternoon, so stay tuned for that.

(Picture of Dustin Pedroia: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Chaim Bloom felt Alex Cora was ‘right choice’ for manager in order to move Red Sox forward

Upon his hiring last October, Red Sox chief baseball officer got the chance to become familiar with Alex Cora, who he likely presumed would be his manager for the foreseeable future.

Instead, as a result of his involvement in the 2017 Astros’ illegal stealing of signs, Cora and the Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways in January.

That left Bloom with a rather sizable hole to fill at the managerial position in a relatively short period of time.

Ron Roenicke, Cora’s bench coach the previous two seasons, eventually landed the job in February, but he served as more of a stopgap as anything upon his dismissal from the club in September.

Again, Bloom was tasked with finding the Red Sox’ next manager, this time with a little more time do so and a greater number of candidates to consider.

One of those candidates, Cora, could not be interviewed until after this year’s World Series ended, so that left Bloom with about a month to contemplate who else may be qualified for the job.

“When we started the process after the season, we spent a lot of time coming up with a really good list of candidates,” Bloom said at Cora’s re-introductory press conference Tuesday. “We vetted them very thoroughly, we talked to a number of people.”

Still, even when interviewing external candidates such as Sam Fuld or James Rowson, Bloom knew he wanted to talk to Cora before arriving at any final decision.

“I knew at that time that I wanted to have some kind of conversation with Alex when it was okay to do so, which wouldn’t be until after the World Series,” he continued. “I really didn’t know then if he was, in my mind, in real consideration for the job. I just thought it would be good for me, good for him, good for the organization since we really hadn’t spoken since everything happened in January.”

So, Bloom, general manager Brian O’Halloran, and Cora talked. That dialogue, by all accounts, was initiated by Bloom, and it led to a group of Red Sox officials flying down to Puerto Rico to speak with Cora in-person at his home.

“When the time came time to speak with him, we had a lot of different things to work through,” said Bloom. “We were able to have some really intense conversations. Obviously, everything was happening quickly within the week-plus after the World Series, but we got to work through a lot of things. It was really just a question of trying to get as much information as I could to see Alex in full; everything that he had done, good and bad, and everything that he might do.”

Of course, Cora was viewed as one of, if not the favorite to return to Boston even before his suspension had ended. That was mainly due to how highly Red Sox ownership thinks of Cora, which led to speculation that the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy would overrule Bloom on this matter if the latter was not in on Cora.

Speculation aside, Bloom assured the masses on Tuesday that he had full backing from ownership regardless of the decision he made on this matter.

“First and foremost, it was important that they play a role,” Bloom said of Henry and Co. “They’re responsible for the entire organization. I respect that there’s a lot of different opinions out there on Alex on what he did and what that should mean for any organization that might think about employing him. And it’s obviously important, since [ownership] is responsible for the organization, for me to know how they felt. To understand that if it was something baseball operations saw fit to do, that it was something they would support.

“Obviously, if that weren’t the case, it would have obviously been a different process,” he added. “So, not only do I think that that was appropriate, I actually think it was necessary to know how they felt. They also made sure I knew that if I or baseball ops. felt differently, then that was okay, too… They were emphatic that it’s very important that this be a baseball operations decision and they would fully back whatever decision we came to.”

At the end of the day, or last Thursday to be more specific, Bloom and his team ultimately decided that Cora’s strengths, such as his ability to effectively communicate information to players, outweigh any red flags that come with the hire, such as history with the Astros.

“I felt he was the right choice to move us forward,” Bloom said of Cora. “The goal in this process for me was to find the right person to lead the Boston Red Sox.”

Cora has already shown that he can move the Red Sox in the right direction before, as evidenced by leading the club to a World Series title in 2018. The 45-year-old will now get another shot to lead a team that looks quite different from the one he initially left nine months ago.

How Cora and Bloom’s relationship continues to develop over the course of the offseason and into spring training should be interesting to monitor as well.

Red Sox Officially Re-Introduce Alex Cora as Manager

The Red Sox officially re-hired Alex Cora as their next manager, the club announced earlier Friday evening.

Cora, who turned 45 last month, signed a two-year contract with the Sox that includes club options for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

The native of Puerto Rico was originally named the 47th manager in Boston’s franchise history back in October 2017. His first stint with the Red Sox, highlighted by a World Series-winning campaign in 2018, came to an end in January when the two sides agreed to mutually part ways in the midst of Major League Baseball’s investigation regarding Cora’s role in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal.

Now, nearly 10 months after he left the club, Cora is back and excited to manage once again.

“I  am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life,” said Cora in a statement released by the Red Sox. “This past year, I have had time to reflect and evaluate many things, and I recognize how fortunate I am to lead this team once again. Not being a part of the game of baseball, and the pain of bringing negative attention to my family and this organization was extremely difficult. I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud. I owe John Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon, Sam Kennedy, Chaim Bloom and Brian O’Halloran my gratitude for giving me another chance. I am eager to get back to work with our front office, coaches, and especially our players. Boston is where I have always wanted to be and I could not be more excited to help the Red Sox achieve our ultimate goal of winning in October.”

The process of re-hiring Cora did not last all that long for the Sox, as they were free to interview him for the opening as soon as this year’s World Series camt to a close late last month.

Still, in a separate statement released by the team, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom acknowledged that conversations with Cora about a potential reunion were “lengthy, intense, and emotional.”

“Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond,” said Bloom. “The way he leads, inspires, and connects with everyone around him is almost unmatched, and he has incredible baseball acumen and feel for the game. We considered a very impressive slate of candidates – the brightest managerial prospects in the game today. Because of all that had happened, I knew that I wanted to speak with Alex once his suspension ended, but I didn’t yet know if it made sense to consider him for the job as well. Our conversations were lengthy, intense, and emotional. Alex knows that what he did was wrong, and he regrets it. My belief is that every candidate should be considered in full: strengths and weaknesses, accomplishments and failures. That is what I did with Alex in making this choice. He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance. I join our whole organization in welcoming Alex back to Boston and Fenway Park.”

Cora and Bloom were able to get acquainted a little bit prior to the former’s departure from the Sox in January, but they will now have the opportunity to get to know one another even better.

As for when Cora will be re-introduced to the media via a press/Zoom conference, it looks like that will not take place until next week.

It should be interesting to see what kind of questions Cora and whoever else is on the dais with him will have to field from reporters once that presser does take place.

Red Sox make bold decision in bringing back Alex Cora as manager

Regardless of who the Red Sox tabbed as their next manager, it was going to be a bold decision.

On one hand, there’s Alex Cora, who managed the Sox for two years before he and the team mutually agreed to part ways in January due to the role he played in the Houston Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing fiasco. Cora was ultimately handed down a one-year suspension by Major League Baseball in April. That season-long ban came to an end late last month, which allowed the 45-year-old to interview for any managerial opening.

On the other hand, there’s Sam Fuld, who has no experience managing in the majors, let alone the minor-leagues. The 38-year-old, like Cora, is a former major-league veteran. Rather than follow the same kind of path Cora embarked upon in his post-playing days, though, Fuld began the second leg of his baseball career in the Phillies’ front office.

Philadelphia initially hired the New Hampshire native in November 2017 to serve as player information coordinator before promoting him to director integrative baseball performance back in January.

In his time with the Phillies, Fuld has served as a conduit who worked to foster communication between players, coaches, and front office staff while also “[integrating] advanced metrics into game planning.”

As intriguing as his resume may appear, Fuld did not have the same luxury as Cora in that he was already familiar with most of the Red Sox’ higher-ups. Yes, he may have a “tight” relationship with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on account of the time they spent together with the Rays, but that likely does not amount to much when comparing it to Cora’s relationship with the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy.

So, in the end, the Red Sox went with what they were already familiar with: a known commodity in the form of Cora, who led the club to a historic World Series title in 2018 and is well regarded by players, ownership, and fans alike. The red flags with Cora were certainly there due to what he may have done during his time Houston’s bench coach, but the Sox do not seem all too concerned with that. They made it abundantly clear Cora was at the top of their list when team officials flew out to Puerto Rico to meet with him last week while other candidates traveled to Boston to interview for the opening.

It’s unclear at this point if Bloom would have preferred to bring in his own guy in Fuld and was overruled by club ownership on this particular decision. However, it is worth noting that before Cora initially left the Sox earlier this year, he and Bloom seemed to get along swimmingly during the latter’s first few months on the job as chief baseball officer.

Whoever may have made the final, bold decision on this matter, one thing is for certain: Cora is back managing the Red Sox, and he is likely here to stay.

Stay tuned for more in the days ahead.

Red Sox managerial search: Alex Cora, Sam Fuld viewed as finalists to land job

The Red Sox are entering the final stages of their weeks-long search for a new manager, and according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Phillies director of integrative baseball performan Sam Fuld are currently viewed as the favorites to land the job.

In addition to Heyman’s report, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote earlier Thursday that the Red Sox have begun narrowing the field of potential candidates to five — Cora, Fuld, Marlins bench coach/offensive coordinator James Rowson, Yankes bench coach Carlos Mendoza, and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly — to three, “and by Thursday evening, the search process was believed to be down to no more than two finalists.”

Those two finalists in this case would be none other than Cora and Fuld; one of whom already has a rapport with Red Sox brass while the other does not.

Cora also has two years of major-league managerial experience with the Sox as compared to Fuld’s zero.

The 45-year-old led Boston to a World Series title in 2018 and a third-place finish in 2019 and was seemingly well-regarded by players and ownership alike.

However, as Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ illegal stealing of signs unfolded over the winter, it was revealed that Cora, who served as A.J. Hinch’s manager in 2017, may have played an integral role in the Astros’ schemes.

As a result of said investigation, Cora and the Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways in January, approximately three months before he was handed down a one-year suspension for his actions in Houston.

By the time Cora’s season-long ban came to an end at the conclusion of this year’s World Series, he was almost immediately labeled as the favorite to retain his old position with the Red Sox.

Most recently, a party of club officials that included the likes of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran flew to Puerto Rico last Friday to speak with Cora in-person about the managerial opening.

The fact this meeting took place may lead one to believe it is Cora’s job to lose at this point, but it would appear that Fuld is also being seriously considered, per Heyman.

Fuld, a native of Durham, N.H., has spent the past three seasons in the Phillies’ front office, first serving as major-league player information coordinator before being promoted to the club’s director of integrative baseball performance in January.

A veteran of eight major-league seasons, the soon-to-be 39-year-old’s playing career included a three-year stint with the Rays from 2011 through 2013.

In Tampa Bay, Fuld built a strong and “tight” relationship with Bloom when the latter served as an executive there, one in which could help his case for the Sox’ managerial opening.

While Cora and Fuld share many of the same qualities, such as their abilities to successfully utilize analytics and foster communication between players and front office staff, Cora may have the upper hand due to experience alone.

Cora has already ingrained himself within the Red Sox organization. Players such as J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez gush about him, ownership gushes about him, even Bloom seemed to get along with him in their short time together last offseason.

Fuld, meanwhile, is somewhat of a complete stranger to the organization outside of his connection with Bloom. That would not seem to bode well for him, but if finding Ron Roenicke’s successor is truly Bloom’s ‘call to make,’ Fuld would be an obvious fit if he wants to bring in his own guy.

Whether Bloom has final say in this decision or he will be overruled by the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy has yet to be determined. One thing is for certain, though, and that is the notion that the Red Sox’ search for their next manager is nearly complete.

As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo alluded to, “Friday [is looking like] a potential decision day.” We will have to wait and see on that. I still say it’s Cora.

Red Sox Trade Rumors: Astros Have Inquired About Matt Barnes, Rays Have Interest in Christian Vazquez as Monday’s Deadline Looms

The 2020 Major League Baseball season has reached its final weekend leading up until the August 31 trade deadline. With that, a few key contributors on the Red Sox popped up in trade rumors on Friday.

According to The Athletic’s Eno Sarris and Brittany Ghiroli, the Astros have “inquired” on right-hander Matt Barnes, while the Rays “have interest” in catcher Christian Vazquez “with early discussions centering around Tampa’s pitching prospects.”

Barnes and Vazquez, who are both 30 years old, are under club control through the end of the 2021 season, with Vazquez having a $7 million team option for 2022.

Coming into Friday with the second-worst record in the American League at 10-21, the Sox seem primed to be sellers between now and Monday afternoon. They made that much apparent last week by dealing both Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman to the Phillies.

Barnes, who is good friends with both Hembree and Workman, could be the next Boston reliever to get moved.

Through his first 12 appearances of the year, the UCONN product has struggled thus far, posting a 6.00 ERA and 6.65 FIP over 12 innings of work. Still, Barnes was among the nastiest relievers in the American League in 2019, and a pitching-savvy club such as the Astros, led by renowned pitching coach Brent Strom, may be able to unlock something in the fireballer.

Vazquez, meanwhile, has a case to be made that he is more valuable to the Red Sox than Barnes is seeing how he anchors an ever-changing pitching staff.

Coming off a career year last season, the Puerto Rico native entered the weekend owning a .260/.295/.430 slash line to go along with four home runs and 12 RBI through 28 games and 105 plate appearances.

Just recently, Vazquez expressed his desire to end his career with the Red Sox, the organization he was originally drafted by 12 years ago.

“I think it’s going to be sad if I left Boston because all my career we’re here,” he said this past Tuesday. “From (2008), a young kid, I’ve been here. Only one organization. And my goal is retire here. That’s my goal in my career. Be part of one organization, have one jersey on my chest all my career. But we don’t control that.”

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who used to work for the Rays, were to entertain trading Vazquez to Tampa Bay, who have the top farm system in baseball according to Baseball America, not only could the Sox possibly get a quality pitching prospect back, but they could also open the door to sign free agent-to-be J.T. Realmuto this winter if the Phillies don’t re-sign the All-Star backstop first.

That is just a distinct possibility, however, and Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy even classified Vazquez as someone “we want in Boston” when speaking with NESN’s Tom Caron on Wednesday.

With less than 72 hours to go until the trade deadline, Bloom and Co. are certainly on the clock. Even with all that has transpired over the past few days, it would be quite surprising to see the Red Sox not make any additional moves by Monday.