Red Sox leadership didn’t learn about cheating allegations against Alex Cora until Major League Baseball released its report on Monday.
By Tuesday night, owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, president Sam Kennedy, and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom had met with Cora and agreed to “mutually part ways,” a decision made, according to Werner, because it was in the best interest of the team.
The swift downfall of a manager beloved by team brass was addressed on Wednesday just hours after the team announced its decision.
“Alex was professional and understanding that he had made a mistake,” Werner said. “After a couple of conversations, we all mutually agreed we needed to part ways. As we said yesterday, it was a sad day because we have such respect for Alex. He admitted what he did was wrong.”
Although the decision was mutual, it wasn’t easy.
“We’re going to miss just about everything” about Cora, said Henry, who also owns the Globe. “He was a tremendous manager for us, on all levels.
Kennedy said the decision to part ways with Cora came about because of what a Major League Baseball report uncovered: that Cora had been instrumental in developing and executing a system to help the Astros steal sign sequences during the 2017 season, when he served as bench coach. The decision was not made based on allegations that he did the same with the Red Sox as manager in 2018.
All four team representatives declined to address the details of the investigation, citing MLB’s request for teams to not comment on the matter.
Cora has yet to be punished for his role in the schemes in Houston because the investigation into the Red Sox, launched in early January, is not finished. Henry said that the Red Sox are “working with [MLB] to the fullest extent possible.”
The Red Sox as an organization are likely to be punished as well, based on precedent set by MLB on Monday, when Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for one season (they were later fired by Astros owner Jim Crane) and the Astros were levied a $5-million fine and the loss of four high-level draft picks.
In 2017, after the Red Sox were fined an undisclosed amount for illegally communicating sign sequences using an Apple Watch, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred issued a memo to all teams warning against more severe punishments for teams who break the rules surrounding electronic devices in the game.
Henry said the Red Sox did take “a number of steps to ensure that we didn’t have a problem going forward.” Because of that, all four team representatives asked for fans to “withold judgment” on the team until the MLB report is finished.
“We don’t have all the facts yet ourselves,” Henry said.
But Kennedy was adamant that the Red Sox’ 2018 World Series title shouldn’t be considered suspect. When asked if Boston still won the series fairly, he didn’t hesitate.
Leadership considered waiting until the MLB report was released to make a leadership change, but wouldn’t speculate on how that would have played out. The Red Sox are, after all, less than a month away from spring training.
Bloom, the new baseball operations leader, said that the search for Cora’s replacement is beginning now, but wouldn’t put a timeline on the process.
“We certainly want to get this done as soon as possible,” he said.
Despite the allegations, Kennedy wouldn’t rule out Cora managing once again.
“I think Alex is an incredibly talented manager and accomplished great things with us,” Kennedy said after a deep pause to collect his thoughts. “He’s expressed remorse, he’s apologized to us for the embarrassment that this caused. I think he’ll go through a process of rehabilitation, so we’ll see what happens. It’ll be hard to speculate. He’s an extreme talent.”
As for the 2020 season, the Red Sox are in a mess. They are without a manager less than a month before pitchers and catchers report for spring training. They have Bloom, a first-time leader, hired away from the Tampa Bay Rays to change the organization’s approach to team building. They’re coming off a disappointing season, having missed the playoffs just one year after winning a title.