The Red Sox are nearing a decision to name their next manager — with a growing belief among members of the baseball industry that the choice will come down to former Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Phillies integrative baseball performance director Sam Fuld.
As of midday Thursday, according to a major league source, the Red Sox had narrowed the field from five known second-round candidates — Cora, Fuld, Marlins bench coach/offensive coordinator James Rowson, Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza, and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly — to three finalists. According to additional major league sources, Mendoza and Kelly were no longer in the mix by Thursday afternoon — and by Thursday evening, the search process was believed to be down to no more than two finalists.
The Fuld-Cora dynamic represents a fascinating contrast. Cora, of course, has managerial experience thanks to his two seasons — including a championship — at the helm of the Red Sox in 2018-19. He’s well-known to Red Sox players, coaches, front office members, owners, and fans.
Yet Cora has limited history with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom — who joined the Red Sox in October 2019, less than three months before Cora had to step down because of his role in a sign-stealing scandal while with the 2017 Astros. (Cora and the Sox parted ways at a time when the 2018 Red Sox were also under investigation for the illegal use of a video monitor to steal sign sequences. MLB subsequently cleared Cora of wrongdoing in the infractions by the 2018 Sox.)
Fuld has never managed in the big leagues and has never had a traditional dugout role on a coaching staff. Once he retired after the 2017 season, however, thanks to his intellect, feel for the game, and interpersonal skills, Fuld immediately emerged as a popular managerial candidate. He interviewed with the Blue Jays after the 2018 season before withdrawing from consideration, and he turned down other opportunities to interview last winter.
Instead, over three years as part of the Phillies coaching staff, he’s occupied an unusual position, serving as a conduit between the front office and both coaches and players. In that capacity, he’s helped to translate information, data, and analytics to make them more usable at the field level.
Meanwhile, Fuld has a limited history with members of the Red Sox organization — save for Bloom. During a playing career that spanned part of eight seasons, Fuld spent three years (2011-13) with the Rays, at a time when Bloom was an executive there.
“He and Chaim were pretty tight,” said one major league source.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network was the first to report that the Red Sox had entered the finalist stage of their managerial search and to identify it as a likely choice between Cora and Fuld.
Alex Speier can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.