After the lifeless offseason for the Boston Red Sox, many are closing the book and already shifting their focus well beyond spring training and the 2024 season -- one that's likely to bring with it a daunting aura.
MassLive's Sean McAdam reported late last week that he feels the most interesting free agent competition after the 2024 season will not involve a player.
Heading into the final year of his contract with the Red Sox, current manager Alex Cora is certainly not working with a bolstered roster or a renewed sense of optimism. 2024 will also be the first year Cora will be working hand-in-hand with new Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow, who deemed him "one of the best managers in the game."
McAdam went on to report that Cora is, and will remain a favorite for the Red Sox to retain, but there will be others going after him. He goes on to list five potential landing spots for Cora: the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and the St. Louis Cardinals.
In five seasons at the helm of the Red Sox, Cora has gone 438-367, a winning percentage just over .500. 2018 was his inaugrual season as manager in Boston and that ended with a 108 wins and a World Series title. The Red Sox reached the ALCS in 2021 before being eliminated by the Houston Astros. With the exception of those two seasons, subjectively, Cora's five (going on six) seasons as manager of the Red Sox has been anything but stellar.
The Red Sox are entering 2024 off consecutive last-place finishes in the American League East and many predestining them to three-peat as bottom feeders in the division. While the current state of the Red Sox is dismal, it's worth wondering if Cora has any sort of future with a franchise that's drastically lagging behind the rest of the big markets.
Is the grass greener on the other side for Red Sox manager Alex Cora?
We've seen half-decade of Cora calling the shots in Boston and it's been about as middle of the road as a .544 winning percentage would suggest. Now, with that, that's not to sound entitled when the team is six years removed from a World Series championship. However, with his suspension for the entirety of 2020, losing stars like Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, front-office transitions, and a reduced payroll, the scope of the Red Sox right now is much different than when Cora inked that deal before the 2018 season. So, while Red Sox fans may be ready to move on from Cora and start fresh, fans should first ask themselves: will Cora even want to return?
In his report, McAdam alluded to the Craig Counsell blockbuster deal with the Chicago Cubs last fall worth $40 million over five years. McAdam went on further to state that Counsell was the first modern-day manager to really shop around for himself in a way similar to how a player would during free agency, creating buzz and bidding wars. McAdam seems to think that could very much be the case for Cora when the curtain closes on 2024 and it's time to make a decision regarding his future.
Whether you're indifferent about Cora returning or you'd be sad to see him go, it's not often that the biggest question mark for any baseball team heading into an offseason has little to do with key players, and everything to do with the person filling out the lineup card. For those closest to the team, that seems to be where the Red Sox are headed.