OXON HILL, Md. — There is no insurance against being fired when you’re the manager of the Red Sox. You’re always one protracted slump away from crisis.
John Farrell, the son of a New Jersey lobsterman, has tossed in those waves. In four seasons with the Sox, he has twice won the American League East and twice finished last.
On Monday, the Sox gave Farrell some space amidst the tumult by announcing his contract option for 2018 had been picked up.
“I think he’s done a very fine job,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said.
Dombrowski announced Oct. 11 that Farrell would return as manager, but did not address his option other than to say it was not a priority at the time.
The idea that Farrell would enter the coming season uncertain about his future was a simmering topic for several weeks. But Dombrowski said it was more a matter of timing. The Sox had front office vacancies to fill following the departure of general manager Mike Hazen and other issues to address first.
Dombrowski and Farrell met Sunday night on the eve of the Winter Meetings and the decision was formally made. Had they wanted, the Sox could have waited until 10 days after the 2017 World Series. Instead, the situation is settled and Farrell will arrive at spring training not having to address his status.
“We’re very happy to have done that,” Dombrowski said. “He had a very good year last year. Thought he did a good job in handling the club. We had a good working relationship; he had the respect of our players. Our players played hard for him.”
Farrell is 493-479 in six years as a manager, 339-309 with the Red Sox. He was second in AL Manager of the Year voting in 2013 and fourth in 2016 after the team finished 93-69.
Farrell is the first Red Sox manager since Joe Morgan to win two division championships.
“I’m thrilled that it’s exercised,” Farrell said. “I love the city, the organization, and the players that we have. This is an exciting young team; that young core group of players is developing year after year and continuing to expand.
“[This was] the first full year that Dave and I have had a chance to work together. I appreciate his confidence.”
Farrell’s job security appeared flimsy when Dombrowski took control of baseball operations during the 2015 season. The Sox were in last place and Farrell was on medical leave battling lymphoma at the time.
General manager Ben Cherington, who campaigned to hire Farrell away from the Toronto Blue Jays, left the organization when Dombrowski was hired. The team played markedly better for interim manager Torey Lovullo over the final 48 games of the season.
It was an uncertain time for Farrell.
“[Dombrowski] walks in and he’s inheriting a manager and a chemo plan,” Farrell said. “It has a chance to work itself out where we win a division title. We addressed and faced a lot of challenges throughout the course of the season.
“Whether that was injury; whether that was [the] dry spells we went through from a team performance standpoint. We came out of it all stronger and in a better place.”
Farrell said there was never a feeling of anxiety concerning his deal.
“The status of my contract has never changed the way I approach [the job] day in and day out and won’t going forward,” he said. “My focus is always on what we can do tonight to win a game and put our players in the best position to succeed.
After the announcement, Dombrowski fielded questions about the roster and how the Sox would approach next season. He quickly invited Farrell to come up to the front of the room and sit with him and add his opinions.
The two men, who had only a nodding acquaintance 19 months ago, are a team now.
“John has got a solid presence to himself and leadership capabilities,” Dombrowski said. “Yet I also find him very open-minded when we have conversations about generalities of things.”
Farrell’s 339 victories are ninth in team history. He needs only 76 more to move into sixth.