Red Sox

Merloni: 'Pretty sure' Alex Cora wants to return as Red Sox manager

Red Sox

The slog that has been the 2020 Red Sox season is mercifully about to come to an end -- and the less said about this forgettable campaign, the better.

Sox fans are once again singing the familiar refrain of "wait 'til next year," but there are a ton of questions around the 2021 installment of the Red Sox.

What additional changes will Chaim Bloom make to the roster after a season of turnover? Will Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez be healthy enough to return to the rotation? Will J.D. Martinez be back or will he opt out? Will Jackie Bradley Jr. depart this offseason as a free agent? And who will manage the team next season?

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Ron Roenicke was installed as the team's interim manager after the team parted ways with Alex Cora following sign-stealing incidents in both Houston and Boston, and even though the interim tag was removed in April, the 64-year-old seems like more of a placeholder than a long-term solution.

So if Roenicke isn't the answer going forward, what about a World Series-winning manager with prior strong relationships with many Red Sox players? What about Cora, whose one-year suspension will end next month? 

"I don't think the Red Sox are going to bring him back," said NBC Sports Boston's John Tomase on "Talkin' Baseball" on Monday night. "I think there's going to be a lot of pressure to bring him back, but ultimately, if Chaim Bloom is really your baseball boss -- if he's truly the guy who is in charge of this decision -- put yourself in his shoes. Are you racing to bring back Alex Cora, the guy who really screwed up your first year on the job? If I'm Chaim Bloom, I'm saying 'You know what, I was brought in here to build my organization. I'm bringing in my manager.' "

 

Cora led the Sox to a franchise-record 108 wins and a World Series title in 2018 before an 84-78 record and a third-place finish in 2019. When the club announced it was parting ways with Cora earlier this spring, there was speculation about a potential return -- and though team brass declined to comment on that possibility, NBC Sports Boston baseball analyst Lou Merloni sees a path to a reunion.

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"It really comes down to what Chaim Bloom wants and if he has an idea as to what he wants to bring in as a manager, because I'll say this: I'm pretty sure Alex Cora wants to be the manager of the Boston Red Sox," Merloni said. "I think he loves managing this team and I think this group loves him. I think Alex gets an interview, I think he wants an interview, and Chaim Bloom might find out that this is actually the guy that he does want."

If Cora were to return, he'd find a team that looks very different from the Red Sox team he last managed. Only 13 players on the club's active roster right now played for Cora, and only 11 players from the team's 25-man World Series roster in 2018 are still on the Sox.