Red Sox

Merloni: Why Alex Cora could return as Red Sox manager in 2021

Merloni: Why Alex Cora could return as Red Sox manager in 2021

Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways last week as a result of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. But is there a chance he could return as Boston's manager in 2021?

That'll depend on the length of Cora's impending suspension. The ex-Red Sox skipper is expected to receive at least a one-year ban for his role in the Astros scandal, and it could exceed that if MLB finds wrongdoing by the 2018 Red Sox in their current investigation.

The Red Sox, though, believe they'll get off scot-free. If that's the case, Cora could be a managerial candidate again in 2021 and thus a reunion with Boston would be a possibility.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Thursday on NBC Sports Boston's "Boston Sports Tonight," Lou Merloni explained why it would make sense to hire an interim manager like bench coach Ron Roenicke for the 2020 season and then explore options -- potentially Cora -- next offseason.

To me, I don't think Chaim Bloom his first hire for a manager he goes out and hires the best of what's left ... The next manager, I don't think you want to just take what's best. You want to wait and, you know, that's why you want to go interim for a year, and then you look at a bigger pool. One that may include Alex Cora ... 

Cora's a longshot. But we've got to see what happens with the investigation. We've got to hear from him after the investigation. We've got to see how the summer goes, the PR, how Roenicke does. I think you say, 'Ron, you're the manager of the team. We'll re-evaluate at the end of the year, there's no promises, I'm not going to give you a four-year deal, and you'll be up for the job next year too. We'll see what happens.'

Given Cora's current reputation around the league for his involvement in the Astros cheating scandal, it's difficult to imagine the Red Sox bringing him back. However, owner John Henry reportedly had every intention of keeping Cora, so maybe it wouldn't be so farfetched after all.

Tomase: Handicapping the Red Sox managerial candidates

J.D. Martinez shares new revelation about Astros sign-stealing in 2018 playoffs

J.D. Martinez shares new revelation about Astros sign-stealing in 2018 playoffs

Mike Fiers didn't blow the lid on the Houston Astros' sign-stealing operation until early this year.

But the Boston Red Sox knew what the Astros were up to entering the 2018 American League Championship Series -- thanks to a tip from Fiers.

That's according to Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez, who revealed Thursday that Fiers made him aware of the Astros' illegal sign-stealing system before the 2018 playoffs.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"The only way I ever found out was towards in the playoffs when Fiers -- who is a very good friend of mine -- he reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, make sure you’re doing this because this is what these guys are doing in the playoffs,' " Martinez told WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" radio show. "I was like, ‘What?! How is this a thing?’ "

Martinez said he mentioned Fiers' tip to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who told Martinez "about the whole system," having served as Houston's bench coach in 2017.

"That was why it was so crazy," Martinez said. "[Cora] was so relaxed going into those playoff games because he knew -- we were ready for it."

New Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy suggested Thursday that many MLB teams were aware the Astros were cheating.

But Cora had specific knowledge of Houston's operation, and considering Boston dispatched the Astros in five games in the 2018 ALCS en route to a World Series title, it's worth wondering how much Fiers' counter-intelligence benefited the Red Sox (if it all) in their series victory.

It's also worth wondering if Cora shared Houston's method of stealing signs -- which involved a TV monitor next to the dugout and banging on trash cans to alert hitters of certain pitches -- with the 2018 Red Sox, who are under investigation for their own sign-stealing operation.

Martinez insisted Boston didn't adopt any part of the Astros' system, however.

"You can put me on any lie detector," Martinez said. "Alex Cora never influenced us and never told us about that thing."

Red Sox fans won't be happy with how much the Brewers are paying Brock Holt

Red Sox fans won't be happy with how much the Brewers are paying Brock Holt

The Boston Red Sox have had a rough offseason. And on Thursday night, it got a bit rougher.

The latest news concerning the Red Sox is in relation to the contract that Brock Holt signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. Holt, a team leader who had spent almost all of his major league career with the Red Sox, left the team in free agency, but it wasn't because he wanted to leave. He wanted to be a life-long Red Sox.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Instead, the team opted to let the 31-year-old super-utility player walk as they attempt to retool and cut costs.

But just how much is the team saving by not signing Holt? According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Holt's one-year pact with the Brewers is worth $3.25 million and has a club option for $5 million the following season.

That isn't big-time money and there's no doubt that the Red Sox could've matched that while staying under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. But instead, they opted not to bring back the fan-favorite even in the wake of the brand-damaging Betts deal.

That certainly won't please the fan base. And as a result, the Red Sox will likely roll with Jonathan Arauz and Jose Peraza, two relatively unproven players, as their utility infielders.

Arauz was a pick in the Rule 5 draft, so he has to remain on the team's 25-man major league roster for the entire year in order for the Red Sox to retain his rights. He's only 21 but hit .249 with 11 homers during stints in single and double-A last season.

As for Peraza, he was signed for $3 million during the offseason. The 25-year-old has upside as a former top Cincinnati Reds prospect who hit .288 with 14 homers in 2018. However, he regressed last season, hitting .239 with six homers, and has a career fielding percentage of .973. Comparatively, Holt's .981 fielding percentage, while largely playing the same positions as Peraza, is an upgrade.

Perhaps these potential-based moves will end up working for the Red Sox, especially if Peraza can find his power in the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway Park. But given that Holt would've only cost a bit more to retain, it's hard to understand why the team wouldn't bring him back.

At the very least, fans of the team would've been happy to see him return. And amid a tough two-month stretch for Sox, that's some goodwill they certainly could've used.