Alex Cora is back in Boston…
The Boston Red Sox have rehired the team’s 45-year-old Puerto Rican former manager,.
Cora led the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series title but mutually agreed to part with the club amid the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. He was suspended for one season by Major League Baseball for his role in the scandal.
Boston, which ended the 60-game shortened season with a 24-36 record, decided not to retain manager Ron Roenicke, who replaced Cora in January after serving on his coaching staff.
The Red Sox were not allowed to speak to Cora until after the World Series, which ended October 27. The lack of activity before then was a sign that they were focused on Cora.
Cora agreed to a two-year contract that has a two-year team option for 2023 and ’24, the team said.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life,” Cora said in a statement released by the team. “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. …
“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 team he returns to bears little resemblance to the one he last managed.
Chaim Bloom is running the baseball side now, taking over last offseason just in time to part ways with Cora. He welcomed Cora back in a team statement Friday.
“Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond,” Bloom said. “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. …
“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. … He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance.”
Bloom’s other big move last offseason was to trade 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with David Price as part of an effort to get the Red Sox under the threshold for baseball’s competitive balance tax.
With Betts and Price gone, Chris Sale out with Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez recovering from a COVID-19-related heart problem, the Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East.
But Cora also has hope for improvement in the 2021 season.
Sale is expected to return in the first half. J.D. Martinez, an MLB All-Star his first two years in Boston before struggling in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, is also under contract for at least one more year.
And the Red Sox have plenty of salary flexibility gained in the deal that sent Betts and Price to Los Angeles.
Cora replaced John Farrell as Boston’s manager after the team twice finished last under Farrell, despite winning the 2013 World Series with him. With Cora at the helm in 2018, the Red Sox raced to a 108-54 regular-season record and an easy win in the AL East. They led the majors with a .268 team batting average and 876 runs scored.
Boston then dominated the postseason with an 11-3 mark, posting wins over the Yankees and Astros in the AL division and championship series, respectively, before defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.
The Red Sox couldn’t sustain 2018’s success in Cora’s second season, finishing 84-78 and third in the division, 19 games behind the Yankees.
Cora, who worked as an ESPN analyst before leaving for the Astros, played 14 MLB seasons, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox, winning the 2007 World Series with Boston. He also played for the Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Texas Rangers before finishing his career with the Washington Nationals in 2011.