Alex Cora is back as the manager of the Boston Red Sox. The move, which was rumored for several weeks, became official Friday afternoon with the club announcing they had come to terms with Cora on a two year deal with a two-year club option for 2023-24.
Cora, who was introduced as the club’s 47th manager three years earlier to the day, left the team last January 14 in the wake of the Astros cheating scandal. At the time of his departure from the Sox, Cora said that “parting ways was the best thing for the organization.”
Cora was subsequently suspended from baseball for one year by the Commissioner’s Office, a penalty that ended after this season’s World Series.
The year away from baseball was a time for reflection, Cora said Friday, adding that he realizes he is fortunate to lead the Sox 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,” the former and new manager said. “I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud.”
Back to the Sox
In a statement announcing Cora’s return, Red Sox baseball chief Chaim Bloom cited leadership skills, calling Cora “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.”
Bloom said Cora is remorseful for the conduct that led to his one-year baseball suspension for his involvement in the 2017 Astro cheating scandal. But Bloom said he believed Cora deserves another opportunity to manage. “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 said.
Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said that Cora’s past success in Boston was a factor in the decision. “During his Red Sox career as a player and manager, Alex continually made us better,” Kennedy said. “With his incredible talent, he will build on the deep bonds he’s fostered over time to make us better in the years to come.”
Back in the winter of 2018, Cora was a favorite for the Red Sox manager’s spot even early on, despite having no previous experience as a Major League manager. Out of the blocks, he did not disappoint, piloting the Red Sox to 108 wins in 2018 on the way to a World Championship and finishing runner-up for American League Manager of the Year honors.
At 192-132 for his two seasons at the helm, Cora amassed the 4th-most wins of any manager in their first two seasons of big league work.
But Cora’s fall was swift last January following the results of an MLB investigation into cheating by the 2017 Astros, where Cora had been bench coach.
The report cited Cora’s “active participation” in the sign-stealing scheme in Houston. Worse, MLB said they would investigate whether any such cheating might taint Boston’s 2018 championship. With sanctions for the 2017 incident pending, Cora and the Sox decided to part company.
After a long delay, MLB’s inquiry into the 2018 Red Sox was mostly exculpatory. The April 2020 report focused on improper use of video technology by replay systems operation J.T. Watkins but no evidence that Cora, his coaches or the front office knew—or should have known—what Watkins was up to. As Cora was found to be uninvolved, Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed on Cora a one-year suspension from baseball. That penalty was completed with the final out of the 2020 World Series.