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Red Sox part ways with manager Alex Cora

@IanMBrowne
January 14, 2020

BOSTON -- In a development that would have seemed stunning a week ago but became almost inevitable over the last 24 hours, the Red Sox are now in search of a new manager for 2020 and beyond. On Tuesday night, the Sox announced their decision to part ways with Alex

BOSTON -- In a development that would have seemed stunning a week ago but became almost inevitable over the last 24 hours, the Red Sox are now in search of a new manager for 2020 and beyond.

On Tuesday night, the Sox announced their decision to part ways with Alex Cora, who managed the club for the past two seasons, including the World Series championship season of 2018.

The decision to move on from Cora was made one day after he was named in Major League Baseball's findings from its investigation of the Astros' sign-stealing allegations in 2017. Cora, who was Houston's bench coach in '17, was found to have been involved in developing and utilizing ways to use the replay room to transmit signs. He was mentioned 11 times in Commissioner Rob Manfred’s nine-page report.

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The Red Sox in their statement made no mention of the process or timetable they will use to select their next manager, but the club will hold a press conference on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET at Fenway Park.

In an opening statement attributed to Red Sox owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, president/CEO Sam Kennedy and Cora, the decision was described as a collective one.

“Today we met to discuss the Commissioner’s report related to the Houston Astros investigation. Given the findings and the Commissioner’s ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways.”

While Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended for a full season (and subsequently dismissed by the Astros within an hour of that ruling on Monday), Manfred said he was waiting to determine discipline for Cora until the completion of an investigation spurred by a report in The Athletic last week that the Red Sox used their video room during the 2018 season to decode signs and swiftly transmit them to the dugout.

Read MLB's official findings in Astros investigation (pdf)

The Red Sox decided to act on Cora before MLB finished its investigation. It’s possible the Red Sox, and Cora himself, will receive penalties from MLB once that investigation is complete. The Astros, for example, will forfeit their first- and second-round Draft picks the next two seasons and pay a $5 million fine to MLB.

The Red Sox were penalized in 2017 for transmitting sign information from their replay review room to individuals in the dugout wearing smart watches. The Red Sox were fined, and Manfred then issued a memo to all MLB clubs stating that any future such violations would be taken “extremely seriously by my office” and that the general manager and field manager would be held accountable.

Cora, who played for the Red Sox from 2005-08, came to Boston with high hopes as a rookie manager in ’18 and immediately delivered. That Sox squad notched a franchise-record 108 wins and steamrolled three quality competitors (the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers) in an 11-3 postseason crusade that landed Boston its fourth World Series title in a span of 15 seasons.

Cora became a popular public face for the organization and was well-liked by the players. But Boston had a tough title defense in ’19, going just 84-78 and failing to come close to postseason contention.

"This is a sad day for us," Henry, Werner and Kennedy added in the club’s statement. "Alex is a special person and a beloved member of the Red Sox. We are grateful for his impact on our franchise. We will miss his passion, his energy and his significant contributions to the communities of New England and Puerto Rico."

Cora added the following:

“I want to thank John, Tom, Sam, the players, our coaching staff and the entire Red Sox organization. I especially want to thank my family for their love and support.

“We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization. I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward. 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.”

Cora went 192-132 (.593) in his two seasons as Boston's manager following his lone season as Houston's bench coach. Along with winning the World Series in 2017 as the Astros' bench coach and ’18 as Boston’s manager, Cora won the '07 World Series with the Red Sox during his 14-year playing career.

In his stint managing the Red Sox, Cora got career-best performances out of several players, including 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Christian Vazquez and Eduardo Rodriguez.

This had already been an unsettling offseason for the Sox, as new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has tried to plot a course forward while trying to reach ownership’s goal of getting the team’s payroll below the first luxury tax threshold of $208 million. Betts, who has one more year of club control, has appeared in trade rumors, though it seems highly unlikely at this point that he will be dealt.

Lefty David Price, who is owed a balance of $96 million over the final three seasons of his contract, could be on the move if Bloom finds a deal that makes sense. Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has also been the subject of trade rumors.

But now attention has swiftly switched to finding a new manager to lead the club going forward.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.