The Red Sox exercised manager Alex Cora’s club options for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, the team announced Monday morning.
Cora returned to the Sox’ helm in 2021 after serving a one-year suspension for his involvement in the Astros’ cheating scandal of 2017. He signed a two-year deal, taking over after the Red Sox finished last in the American League East under Ron Roenicke in the shortened 2020 season.
His impact was evident. The Red Sox went 92-70, earning the first wild-card spot, and advanced to the AL Championship Series against the Astros, falling two wins short of a World Series appearance.
“I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to manage the Red Sox,” Cora said in a statement. “We experienced so many special moments as a team and as a city in 2021, but we still have unfinished business to take care of.
“I am excited about the current state of our organization and eager to continue my work with our front office, coaches, players, and everyone who makes this such a special place.”
Cora inherited a Red Sox team that was different from his 2018-19 squads. While they still had Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez on the roster, their rotation was a huge uncertainty. Chris Sale would miss most of the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
More importantly, the team’s identity was still under construction under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, in his second season with the club. Just a year earlier, Bloom had shipped off the Sox’ best player and a former American League MVP, Mookie Betts, which certainly gave the impression to the fan base that the team would undergo a rebuild.
If you ask Bloom, though, he saw it a bit differently — not a rebuild but a retool. Plus, with cornerstone players like Devers and Bogaerts, Bloom made it clear he wanted to win.
Cora reentered the organization in the midst of that divide between what Bloom’s vision was and the dismal results on the field. And when the Sox lost their first three games on opening weekend at Fenway Park last year, the noise only became louder.
But Cora, with his calming presence matched with a shrewd ability to manage skillfully and tactfully, was a huge reason the team regrouped and became a force for much of the season.
“I think one of the unique things about Alex is that he combines a lot of different qualities that help bring the best out of players,” Bloom said. “His feel for the game of baseball, his intellect, just the way that he notices things on the field and is able to combine them with the preparation that he does to maximize what goes on on the field.
“And what happens in every game is as good as anybody. And as a leader and as a motivator, he can really help take a clubhouse to another level.”
Cora has a 284-202 record in three seasons as Red Sox manager, with winning records in each: 2018 (108-54), 2019 (84-78), and 2021 (92-70). Of the 19 managers with at least 400 games with the Red Sox, Cora’s .584 winning percentage is the highest.
Yet this year was Cora’s greatest challenge, with less talent to work with than his previous years. Given how well the team played, it proved Cora’s ability to adapt and get the most out of his players. It put Cora back among the best managers in baseball, prompting a fifth-place finish in AL Manager of the Year voting.
“He’s a tremendous leader and a wonderful partner for what we’re trying to do as an organization,” Bloom said. “We have a lot to be proud of from 2021 and a lot of unfinished business.”