Rays extend their manager while Red Sox pretend theirs doesn’t exist

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Rays extended manager Kevin Cash and team president Erik Neander on Feb. 8 in what will keep the status quo intact for quite some time.

Cash is regarded as one of the best managers in the game and he routinely guides a competitive team with one of the lowest payrolls in the league. The success that Cash has been able to find with Tampa Bay makes him well deserving of his title as the longest-tenured manager in MLB.

Meanwhile, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora's contract inches closer and closer to its expiration.

Cora has been with the Red Sox for five seasons and has taken the team to the World Series in 2018 and to the ACLS in 2021. The 2018 World Series squad was one of the winningest baseball has ever seen. The 2021 playoff team was stripped to its bare bones and Cora still managed to get them two games away from the last dance.

MassLive's Chris Cotillo reports that there have been no "substantive" talks of an extension between Cora and Boston. And after Craig Counsell made a bold move to test free agency as a manager and signed a $40 million contract afterward, the Red Sox should get a move on if they're hoping to have Cora back.

The Red Sox have had few conversations about an extension with manager Alex Cora

On an episode of the "Fenway Rundown" podcast, Ken Rosenthal posited that the Red Sox getting Cora back or not could hinge on the quality of the season they put together this year. Based on how the offseason has been going for Boston — no major signings and no great, immediate returns for trades — Cora is likely already halfway out the door.

“If the season doesn’t go as well, if he doesn’t jive with Breslow the way he would want, or maybe the way Breslow would want, then certainly, we could be looking at free agency," Rosenthal said. "I don’t know that Cora, if they’re coming off a losing season, will be as highly regarded as Counsell ... but I can see a similar scenario playing out for Cora."

It's possible that Cora, a former Sox player himself, isn't interested in an extension with Boston. He'd probably like to manage a team that isn't gunning for the bottom every year and gives him decent players and resources to work with — a team that actually wants to improve when it says it does.

If the men in charge at Fenway were smart, they'd get a discussion started with Cora soon and make a competitive offer. After seeing the chaos that ensued after Chaim Bloom's dismissal, the front office very well knows that many quality candidates don't want to be in Boston.

The Red Sox's chief baseball officer position was rejected by the likes of Kim Ng, Sam Fuld, Brandon Gomes and more.

Finding someone to replace Cora is going to be no small task, and no one's going to do it for a small check. It would be in the Red Sox's best interest not to replace him and to instead keep a well-regarded baseball mind and proven winner in the clubhouse.

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