Boston Red Sox will bring back John Farrell, Torey Lovullo in 2016


It came as no surprise when the Boston Red Sox announced earlier this week that John Farrell would be returning to the manager’s seat in 2016. Provided that the doctors give him a clean bill of health following his recovery from Stage 1 Lymphoma, Farrell deserves the opportunity to reclaim his job. The part that does lend itself to some further speculation is the news that Torey Lovullo will be returning to his bench coach role next season.

Lovullo’s contract initially had him signed through 2016 to be the bench coach of the Red Sox, but the team’s improved play under his watch led many to believe he would seek other opportunities to manage elsewhere. Instead, Lovullo reworked his contract to make it a two-year deal through 2017, while agreeing to bypass the chance to pursue other major league managerial openings this offseason, per a WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

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Farrell signed a two-year extension prior to this season that takes him through the 2017 season with a team option for 2018. Any manager residing over a team with consecutive last-place finishes should be considered on the hot seat, but it would have been a PR nightmare if the Red Sox had fired Farrell during his battle with cancer. Baseball executives often operate under a “it’s nothing personal, just business” mentality, but it would have been truly heartless to tell Farrell that his job had been taken from him while he was away fighting for his life.

Retaining Lovullo on their coaching staff is a small coup for the Red Sox. The highly regarded interim manager led the team to a 28-20 record down the stretch, giving them a .583 winning percentage that would have led the division had they played at that pace the entire season. Granted those were pretty meaningless games given that the Red Sox were essentially out of the postseason race by the time Lovullo took over. Not to mention that there were other factors that led to the team’s improved play that extend beyond the manager. Regardless, Lovullo did an impressive job in stepping up under the circumstances.

Which begs the question of why Lovullo passed on the chance to pursue other options. Surely there are teams with managerial openings this winter that would have been interested in at least interviewing Lovullo. Instead he seems to be settling for being Farrell’s sidekick. Is Lovullo so fiercely loyal to Farrell and the Red Sox organization that he prefers to stay in Boston rather than seek a potential promotion somewhere else?

Perhaps Lovullo is comfortable right where he is. His brief time as interim manager may have been enough to convince him that it’s not a job he wants in the long run, despite his success in the role.

Or maybe he does want it, but only in Boston. The Red Sox can’t push Farrell out the door now, but if things go south again in 2016 it’s possible that the team could cut bait with him and hand the job over to Lovullo. Winning a championship two years ago should provide Farrell with a longer leash than most, but this franchise’s patience will wear thin if the team seems headed for another losing season. It’s vital for Farrell to ensure the Red Sox get off to a strong start next season, especially with a solid Plan B waiting in the wings.

The Red Sox can be confident that the team will be in good hands in the event that Farrell’s health prevents him from being ready to take the reigns to begin next season. If the front office determines at any point over the next couple years that Farrell is no longer the man for the job, they have his heir apparent potentially sitting in waiting beside him.

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