BOSTON -- While the Red Sox have been more methodical than the White Sox and Tigers in filling their managerial vacancy, they are making headway in their search, including a meeting in Puerto Rico last week with Alex Cora, a source confirmed to MLB.com.
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran took part in the session with Cora, who managed the Red Sox in 2018-19 and had a mutual parting of ways with the club in January due to his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier was first to report that the club had an in-person meeting with Cora late last week, while MassLive’s Chris Cotillo was first to report that it took place in Puerto Rico.
Cora -- Houston’s bench coach in 2017 -- was suspended by MLB for the entirety of the '20 season, but that discipline expired once the World Series ended.
A.J. Hinch, the former manager of the Astros, received the same discipline as Cora, and he was hired Friday as the new manager of the Tigers.
Cora led the Red Sox to a franchise-record 108 wins in the 2018 regular season, and his team dominated that October en route to a World Series championship. The Sox finished 84-78 under Cora in ’19 and missed the playoffs.
Bloom has declined to give updates on his search for Boston’s next manager, or even acknowledge which candidates are in the mix.
But MLB.com has confirmed that Cora is one of five candidates for the job. The others include Pirates bench coach Don Kelly, Phillies director of integrative baseball performance Sam Fuld, Marlins bench coach James Rowson and Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza.
Given that Cora is the only one of those candidates who has managed in the Majors and that he has strong relationships with Red Sox ownership, front office and players, it is easy to speculate that he is the favorite. But that isn’t certain given how close to the vest Bloom has kept the search.
Bloom was hired by the Red Sox to run their front office on Oct. 28, 2019, while Cora parted ways with the club on Jan. 14, 2020. So Bloom and Cora did work together for a couple of months, but they don’t have an extensive history together.
One person on the finalist list that Bloom does have some history with is Fuld, who played for the Rays from 2011-13. Fuld is obviously well-versed on analytics, given his job with the Phillies. And that is something that would appeal to Bloom.
The 38-year-old Fuld also has some familiarity with the New England region. He was born in Durham, N.H., and went to Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H.
In Rowson, the Red Sox are looking at one of the foremost hitting experts in the game. He was the hitting coach for the Twins when they forged their “Bomba Squad” mentality in 2019, clubbing an MLB-record 307 homers. Rowson went to the Marlins in ’20 and served as their bench coach and “offensive coordinator.” If he lands the job, he would be the first Black manager in Red Sox history.
Kelly has more on-field coaching experience than Fuld after serving as the Pirates’ bench coach in 2020 and first-base coach for the Astros in ’19. Kelly also has experience as a scout with the Tigers, and one of his biggest boosters is former Major League manager Jim Leyland.
Then there is Mendoza, who was a quality control coach for the Yankees before being promoted to bench coach under Aaron Boone in 2020. Like Cora, the fact that he is bilingual can only help him as a manager. Mendoza is well-known in Yankees circles as someone who communicates well with players.