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Contract Concerns with Alex Cora

Alex Cora stands in the dugout during a Boston Red Sox game.

Alex Cora is heading into the final year of his contract with the Red Sox. Given the state of the team, will Boston be forced to begin anew in 2025?

Alex Cora has had an interesting tenure with the Boston Red Sox. He led the Sox to a 108-54 record and a World Series title in 2018. Sadly, the success from 2018 has not been matched since. The Sox missed the playoffs in ’19, and then Cora served a suspension issued by MLB for the ’20 season. Cora’s return in ’21 and got the Sox within two games of the World Series. Lately, salary dumps continued, and stars disappeared. The results have led to Boston finishing last in the AL East in ’22 and ’23. The thing to consider, is whether the poor results have been the result of poor management in the clubhouse or poor management in the front office? The Sox felt the problem was in the front office, so Dave Dombrowski and then Chaim Bloom have both gotten the boot during Cora’s tenure. Can’t make chicken salad from chicken…

If Cora leaves, Boston could be without a championship winning head coach on one of their four major teams. The coaches for the Bruins, Celtics, and now the Patriots are green by professional standards. Jim Montgomery for the Bruins and Joe Mazulla for the Celtics are in their second seasons. Both have had strong performances, but no rings yet. New Patriots coach Jerod Mayo is in his first season. Mayo won a Super Bowl as a player in New England, but coaching is another animal. Having Cora around helps maintain the standards of Bostonian sports that saw 12 titles in 18 years. Ideally, this won’t be relevant by June since the Bruins and Celtics are having strong seasons. Fingers crossed that the Duck Boats will be rolling again soon.

The Problems Plaguing Boston

This offseason revealed two things about the Red Sox. First, industry-respected leaders in front offices did not want to even interview for the opening left by the booting of Bloom. Second, Boston is losing its appeal as a place that dominant players want to play. This begs the question of why any coach worth his salt would want to be in Boston either? If the Sox do not find a way to keep Cora, it is safe to assume the next manager will be a significant step down in reputation and ability.

Boston has an interesting history with first year managers this century. Terry Francona won it all in 2004, his first year in Boston. John Farrell did the same in 2013, and Cora did in 2018. So obviously a new manager in 2025 will lead to a World Series like it did for these three others. Well, there were a couple of other first year managers that appeared in Boston this century with poor results. Bobby Valentine arrived in 2012, finished 69-93, and disappeared from professional baseball entirely after the season. Ron Roenicke got his shot in 2020 to replace Cora. Thankfully, 2020 was a truncated season so we only had to watch the Sox play 60 games of abysmal baseball. The record of 24-36 expanded to 162 games results in a 65-win season.

Greener Pastures Elsewhere

Cora won it all with a loaded roster in 2018. Being the best team in the regular season and then winning the World Series is harder than it looks. Just ask the Dodgers about that. After seeing the signing of Craig Counsell, Cora could be in line for a major payday. His ability to juggle the personalities of star-studded lineups would be an asset to any underperforming team of stars. San Diego could be a landing spot if things do not pan out with Mike Shildt. He is the Padres’ fourth manager since 2019. What’s one more at this point?

The Dodgers and the Yankees are going big this year with managers that have not gotten the returns that their rosters should warrant. The signings of SP/DH Shohei Ohtani and SP Yoshinobu Yamamoto add up to over one billion dollars spent by the Dodgers. Aaron Boone is certainly in hotter water than Dave Roberts, but the sports world is always full of surprises. Adding OF Juan Soto was a major addition for the Yankees who have not won it all since 2009.

Break From Boston

Another possibility is Cora will be done with big market baseball. This means he could go small town. Ask Terry Francona about the grind of being in Boston. Francona would likely argue that years in Boston work like dog years where one year in Beantown is like 7 elsewhere. Cora could decide it is time for a break in an easier market. Francona had success in Cleveland without losing anymore hair. Granted, he didn’t have any left to lose by the time he left Boston and neither will Cora, but the chance to work in a lighter market could appeal to Cora. He has been losing in an unforgiving market, which is never easy.

Cora Conclusion

Cora is a proven winner in Boston. On a team with few certainties left, management should make it a priority to find a way to keep him around. It will not help the Sox’s image with future free agents if they let Cora walk away after a strong season. With that in mind, Cora still has to prove his value. The Sox are going to throw some young players to the wolves this season. How they perform under Cora will help show if he is as effective developing young stars as he was managing established ones.

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