The Boston Red Sox are entering a transition period as the season winds down, and 2020 will be the ultimate test for both Alex Cora and the organization.
As we’re just days removed from the firing of Dave Dombrowski it’s clear that the Red Sox are entering a transition period for the future. On Tuesday, Sam Kennedy was a guest on OMF on WEEI Radio and made it clear that Alex Cora’s job was safe for at least the 2020 season. With this season concluding in just a few short weeks we have to begin looking towards next year, and it’s a daunting sight.
There are a lot of things up in the air as Boston begins to march towards a new chapter in their story. Filing the vacancy in the General Manager’s chair is of the utmost importance going forward.
Boston has a team in place for the time being of Eddie Romero, Zach Scott, and Brian O’Halloran will fill the void for the moment until a permanent replacement is named. Raquel Ferreira, the Senior VP of Major and Minor League Ops is also taking on more of a role as the organization looks to the horizon.
The future of the Red Sox is a curious one, that’s for sure. Having just won a World Series just to follow that up with an embarrassing title defense, it’s clear something needed to change. Dombrowski did exactly what he was asked to do during his tenure in Boston and now that the task has changed, the person in the front office needed to as well.
Luckily for Boston, with Alex Cora still at the helm in the clubhouse, the message will remain the same on the field and the consistency of what is expected will still be there. Though the plan of attack wasn’t successful in 2019, Cora’s tactics have proven successful and can be once again in 2020.
He was the definition of success in his freshman campaign and then was hit swiftly in his sophomore year. In his junior year charge, he’ll be looking to get the ship back on course and back to October baseball. If we’ve learned anything about Alex Cora between his stints in Boston as a player and manager it’s that he won’t accept failure. He’ll learn from this mess of a season and correct the errors going forward.
Beyond finding a new GM, the Red Sox need to do whatever they can to keep J.D. Martinez in Boston. Once we hit the offseason Martinez is eligible to opt-out of his deal with the Sox and hit free agency. The big issue comes in 2021 when Mookie Betts is also able to test free agency. Betts has made it clear that he will absolutely test the market, which could cost the Red Sox, literally.
Alex Speier of the Boston Globe recently wrote about the near impossibility of retaining both Martinez and Betts if they go the free-agent route. Due to new deals for Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi, the Red Sox have a lot of money tied up and not enough free in order to keep both stars, especially if they want to get away from the Luxury Tax.
So Cora and the Sox need to begin looking to what 2020 may look like without their superstar DH, and then 2021 without their MVP center fielder. It’s not a guarantee by any means that Martinez will opt-out after this season but it’s always wise to plan for the worst and hope for the best. If they can begin to formulate a gameplan without J.D. then they can easily alter it if he stays in Boston.
Boston does have some things in their favor in regards to Martinez as he’s tacking on the years in age and if he does want to make more than he’s currently earning, the options are thin.
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He could do what Manny Machado did and go to a team that is far from contention but has the cash, or he could stay in Boston and make lots of money to play for a perennial contender. Whoever is at the helm when it comes time to sit down with J.D. needs to have every answer in the book ready for the DH and agent Scott Boras.
As far as Mookie is concerned, I think Boston has a great chance to re-sign him in free agency but it won’t be anywhere near cheap. An extension is far from likely and if they want to keep him, they’re going to need to either destroy the Luxury Tax or find a way to free up plenty of cash. Neither seems like an easy option as we head towards that day.
We’ve seen that the ownership group isn’t afraid to make a move if they feel it’s necessary for the future of the club. If 2020 gets off to a similar start to 2019 I can see Cora being on the hot seat pretty damn quick. FSG will likely give AC just enough rope to hang himself in that he’ll still be in charge of the clubhouse but if the train goes off the track again, he may be shown the exit.
Next season will be a major test for Alex Cora and this Red Sox organization as the team begins transitioning into a new era. Cora is the right manager for this ballclub as he has not only a great report with the team but also their trust. If he wants to add to his Boston legacy he’ll need to ace the test coming his way in 2020 with flying colors.