Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’s official, as of Friday morning Alex Cora will be returning as the Boston Red Sox manager for the 2021 season. After months of speculation, Jon Heyman first broke the news that the former World Series champion will be returning to Boston.

After the Astros won the championship in 2017, it was announced bench coach Alex Cora would be leaving to manage the Red Sox. In his first year, he took his team to the World Series and defeated the current champion Dodgers in five games. After a subpar 2019 season, word came out of his involvement in the Astros cheating scandal, and the Red Sox effectively fired him after. There was word of sign-stealing being carried over to Boston, but they were eventually cleared after a more than thorough MLB investigation.

The Sox named their bench coach at the time, Ron Roenicke, as interim manager for the 2020 season with Cora out. They severely underperformed with a record of 24-36 in the pandemic-shortened season. While it appeared GM Chaim Bloom and owner John Henry “fired” Roenicke, it was never expected that he’d be returning. As soon as the final out of the World Series was recorded, the manager speculation picked up quickly.

The White Sox made their announcement first, bringing in Tony La Russa, and the Tigers followed up by bringing in AJ Hinch, who was also fired and suspended for his involvement in the 2017 scandal as Houston’s manager. This left the Red Sox as the only team without a manager for 2021. Candidates included Cubs third base coach Will Venable, Pirates bench coach Don Kelley, and Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta. They all received interviews with Boston, but the search came down to Sam Fuld, Phillies performance coach, and Alex Cora.

Fuld was commended and it was reported he was a “very real candidate” for the position, but in the end it was fan-favorite Alex Cora who’d get the job.

Now, what does this mean for Boston? Coming off a bad 2020 season, they have a lot of work to do. Bloom has said it’s going to be an active offseason, so picking up a few new pieces could possibly put them back into contention. Cora also has great relationships within the organization, probably the main reason for his return. Players like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Eduardo Rodriguez all have praised him and said he’s a large part of their success. Cora also has the backing of ownership, as it was expected he’d be the long-term manager before the Houston scandal.

Of course Alex Cora isn’t going to automatically put you back in World Series contention, but re-signing him is the first step of that process. There will obviously be people criticizing the move, but at the end of the day Cora was the best option for Boston and the Red Sox plan on having him back for spring training come February.

Photo credit: Harry How/Getty Images