Red Sox

Who could replace Alex Cora as Red Sox manager in 2020?

Who could replace Alex Cora as Red Sox manager in 2020?

The Boston Red Sox will need a new manager in 2020.

Alex Cora is out after two seasons in Boston thanks to MLB investigations into sign-stealing in both Houston and Boston.

Astros owner Jim Crane fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch on Monday after Major League Baseball suspended them one year each for their role in a 2017 sign-stealing operation.

Cora is expected to receive a harsher penalty from MLB, as he played a central role in Houston's operation and also is under investigation for his involvement in a 2018 sign-stealing scandal with the Boston Red Sox.

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And while he'll find out his discipline from the league office in the coming days and/or weeks, his time in Boston is already over.

So, who could replace him? Here's a look at some of the internal candidates who could take over for Cora this season:

Ron Roenicke, Red Sox bench coach

Roenicke is second in command to Cora and is the most qualified candidate to take his place. The 63-year-old has 20 years of major league coaching experience and spent five years as the Milwaukee Brewers' manager, compiling a .508 winning percentage in that span.

Roenicke is entering just his third year as Boston's bench coach but has worked with four different MLB teams (the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels included) is the only coach on staff with MLB managerial experience.

Jason Varitek, Red Sox special assistant to the general manager

A fan favorite during his 15-year tenure in Boston, the former Red Sox catcher would be the clear "people's choice" to replace Cora. He has zero managerial experience, but that didn't stop the New York Yankees from hiring Aaron Boone.

The question would be whether Varitek wants to leave his cushy gig as a general contributor in the Red Sox' front office.

Tim Hyers, Red Sox hitting coach

Hyers is entering his third season as Boston's hitting coach and has some MLB coaching experience; he came up in the Red Sox' system as an area scout from 2009 to 2012 and worked as the Los Angeles Dodgers' assistant hitting coach from 2016 to 2017 before returning to the Red Sox in 2018.

Dave Bush, Red Sox pitching coach

The Red Sox just hired Bush as their pitching coach in October after he finished his playing career, so it's unlikely they would promote him to manager. If Boston took this route, it would promote assistant pitching coach Kevin Walker to pitching coach.

Carlos Febles, Red Sox third base coach

Febles could be a dark horse candidate, considering he's been in the Red Sox' organization since 2007. He served as manager of the Single-A Salem Red Sox and Double-A Portland Sea Dogs before becoming Boston's third base coach in 2017.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox second baseman

Pedroia has always been a leader in Boston's clubhouse. He's also played in just nine games over the past two seasons and turns 37 in August. Like Varitek, the scrappy second baseman would be a popular choice to transition from player to a manager who would have the direct pulse of his players.

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

SPRINGFIELD -- For five hours on Saturday morning at Winter Weekend, Red Sox players and coaches delivered basically the same message in regards to the 2018 cheating scandal: We're not at liberty to say anything until the league finishes its investigation.

And then J.D. Martinez stepped in front of the cameras.

The slugging DH, who earlier this offseason chose to remain in Boston rather than exercise an opt-out in his contract, minced no words when asked if the Red Sox did anything wrong during their championship 2018 season.

"You know, it sucks, to be honest with you," he said of the investigation. "It does suck. But you know what? I know I'm excited for the investigation to be over with just so that they can see that there was nothing going on here."

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So he believes the team is innocent of the charges that it used the replay room to steal opposing signs in real time?

"I believe that, yes," Martinez said.

And what gives Martinez this confidence, despite a report to the contrary in The Athletic claiming that the Red Sox stole signs?

"Because I was in there," he said. "I saw what was. . . . Straight up, everyone seems to forget that in 2017 and '16 this team was a really good team. This team won 93 games those two years and then we just got better."

Martinez spoke without hesitation, and also saluted departed manager Alex Cora, while offering some insight into why Cora decided to leave the team.

"Kind of heartbroken about it," he said. "I talked to him before and I understood his side of it. He didn't want to be a distraction going into the season. I know it was wearing on him and his family, so I obviously feel for him and I wish him the best. But I know he played a big, big role for our team and he was one of my favorites, if not my favorite manager that I've had. It's going to be tough."

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell would check a lot of the boxes the Red Sox would be looking for in their managerial search. The popular former Red Sox third baseman is a Cuban-American who speaks Spanish and English and is media-savvy as an analyst for the MLB Network. 

Still, there's one condition he has that will probably take Lowell out of the running. 

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The 2007 World Series MVP and 2018 inductee into the team's Hall of Fame has no managerial experience, but told WEEI's Rob Bradford in a text message, "I would love to if I knew it was just for a year and Cora was guaranteed to come back."

Alex Cora, a Red Sox teammate of Lowell's for three seasons (2006-08), was let go by on Tuesday after he was named as the central figure in Major League Baseball's investigation of sign-stealing by the Houston Astros when Cora was their bench coach in 2017. Cora is also alleged to have brought a similar system to Boston when he became manager before the 2018 season. MLB is continuing to investigate the allegations against the Red Sox and it will likely result in a suspension of one season or longer for Cora.

Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for a season by MLB and subsequently fired by Houston.

With Cora facing perhaps a longer punishment, or perhaps even a lifetime ban from baseball -- and from Red Sox ownership's telling silence when asked if Cora would ever manage in the majors again -- Lowell's plan of temporarily filling in until Cora's return isn't likely to fly.