What’s next for Red Sox after Alex Cora’s fall

On Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox and skipper Alex Cora announced that they had “mutually agreed to part ways” following bombshell revelations from Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing during the 2017 season, when Cora served as Houston’s bench coach.

Just one year removed from Boston’s win in the 2018 World Series, both the president of baseball operations — Dave Dombrowski, who was fired during a disappointing 2019 season — and the manager who helped lead the team to its ninth championship are gone.

Now what?

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Where the Red Sox will look for their next skipper is unclear, with Dombrowski’s replacement, Chaim Bloom, forced to kick off a managerial search a month before the start of spring training.

Guiding the 2020 Red Sox will be difficult. The speculation around Mookie Betts’ future in a Red Sox uniform remains, with the star outfielder determined to test free agency after the season. Bloom himself enters his first year as the team’s principle decision-maker, leaping from the small-market problems of Tampa Bay to the big-market problems of Boston. Plus, with Major League Baseball investigating the Red Sox for their alleged sign-stealing scheme under Cora during their title run, any new skipper will be asked to manage the PR storm certain to follow.

Although Bloom spoke highly of his former manager, Cora’s departure allows Boston’s new chief baseball officer to put his stamp on this Red Sox team and at least try to turn the page on one of the more volatile two-year stretches in recent team history.

Here are some candidates who could make Bloom’s list.

Ron Roenicke, Red Sox bench coach: Roenicke is the easiest choice for the Red Sox to make. He spent the past two seasons as the team’s bench coach and Cora’s right-hand man, previously managing the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011 to 2015. The 63-year-old Roenicke is also the only coach on the Red Sox staff with major league managerial experience, and he brings more than 20 years of experience coaching in the bigs.

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Matt Quatraro, Tampa Bay Rays bench coach: Quatraro finished as a finalist for both the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants managing jobs this offseason but lost out to Derek Shelton and Gabe Kapler, respectively. Quatraro previously worked with Bloom while with the Rays, with whom he started his post-playing career as a minor league hitting coach. He then worked as the Indians’ assistant hitting coach from 2014 to 2017 before rejoining Tampa Bay as third-base coach in 2018 and later being promoted to bench coach. If Bloom wants to go with someone he has worked with before, Quatraro stands out.

Carlos Febles, Red Sox third-base coach: Febles has been with the organization since 2007 and has served as manager of the rookie ball Lowell Spinners, the Low-A Greenville Drive, the High-A Salem Red Sox and the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Febles is well-liked by the players, has a lot of experience working in the Boston organization and is bilingual as a native of the Dominican Republic.

Tim Hyers, Red Sox hitting coach: Hyers enters his third season with the Red Sox coaching staff, having previously worked as an area scout for the team from 2009 to 2012 and as minor league hitting coordinator from 2013 through 2015 before working as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ assistant hitting coach in 2016 and 2017. When Cora was hired before the 2018 season, Hyers rejoined the Red Sox organization as hitting coach.

Jason Varitek, Red Sox special assistant to the general manager: It seems like Red Sox Nation has long been counting down the days for Varitek, a former team captain and fan favorite, to return to the Fenway Park dugout as manager. The rumors have floated since Varitek retired in 2011, and he’d likely receive a lot of public support from fans.

Varitek became a regular presence at Fenway before the 2018 season, working as a catching coordinator alongside Chad Epperson, and he has been vocal about his managing dreams as of late. He is regularly seen in the Red Sox clubhouse before home games and has developed a more hands-on role with the team rather than pursuing more front-office duties.

Also worth noting: Bloom’s manager in Tampa Bay was a former catcher with little managerial experience, Kevin Cash, who served as the Cleveland Indians’ bullpen coach under Terry Francona for two seasons before becoming the Rays’ skipper in 2015.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox second baseman: When Red Sox players are asked who might make the best manager one day, the most frequent answer is Pedroia, and it’s easy to see why. Pedroia is noted for his high baseball IQ and his love of the game, but though he has barely played the past two seasons, totaling nine games in 2018 and 2019, the Red Sox star is still trying to rehab the left knee injury that has robbed him of his playing time. His ambition — if not his ability — to return to the field as a player would have to change for this to be a consideration.

Still, the trend of hiring inexperienced managers has continued the past few seasons, with notable success stories such as Cash, Aaron Boone, Craig Counsell and Rocco Baldelli. One notable supporter of Pedroia’s potential as a manager? Dombrowski.

“He probably doesn’t need much of an interview, really,” Dombrowski told the Boston Herald in 2018. “He has the respect of all the other players, he has the leadership skills, he has the drive, he has passion for the game. So I could see him being a manager in the future, if he chooses to do that, I don’t know if he wants to do that. I’ve never had that conversation with him, but players respect him and respect his knowledge.”

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