Just over a year after manager Alex Cora led the Boston Red Sox to a World Series championship, the team parted ways with him Tuesday amid Major League Baseball’s investigation into illegal sign-stealing.
Cora was identified by MLB on Monday as a ringleader in the Astros’ scheme to steal signs en route to their 2017 World Series championship, when he was Houston’s bench coach. He became the Red Sox manager the next year and led his new team to the title — albeit with lingering suspicions regarding similar illegal sign-stealing.
MLB announced Monday major sanctions against Houston, including one-season suspensions for manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who were subsequently fired by the Astros.
An MLB investigation into the Red Sox’s actions remains open, but Boston didn’t wait for the findings to part ways with Cora, 44.
In a joint statement, Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and CEO Sam Kennedy said, “Today we met to discuss the Commissioner’s report related to the Houston Astros investigation. Given the findings and the Commissioner’s ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways. ...
“This is a sad day for us. Alex is a special person and a beloved member of the Red Sox. We are grateful for his impact on our franchise. We will miss his passion, his energy and his significant contributions to the communities of New England and Puerto Rico.”
Cora said in the same statement, “I want to thank John, Tom, Sam, the players, our coaching staff and the entire Red Sox organization. I especially want to thank my family for their love and support.
“We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization. I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward. My two years as manager were the best years of my life. It was an honor to manage these teams and help bring a World Series Championship back to Boston. I will forever be indebted to the organization and the fans who supported me as a player, a manager and in my efforts to help Puerto Rico. This is a special place. There is nothing like it in all of baseball, and I will miss it dearly.”
Cora still could face punishment from MLB stemming from his actions with the Astros and the Red Sox.
MLB’s findings regarding the Astros included: “Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros’ dugout.”
Houston players then watched the live feed of the opposing catcher’s signals, and once they cracked the code, they would bang on trash cans to alert batters when an off-speed pitch was coming.
The use of technology to steal signs is not allowed in the major leagues, which is why the Astros were fined $5 million and stripped of their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, in addition to the suspensions levied to Hinch and Luhnow.
The Red Sox went 108-54 in 2018 during Cora’s first season in charge before beating the New York Yankees, Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason. Boston finished 84-78 last year and missed the playoffs.
Cora had no previous coaching or managing experience before landing as the Astros’ bench coach in 2017.
As a player, he was a major-leaguer from 1998-2011, appearing with six teams and hitting .243 with a .310 on-base percentage, a .338 slugging percentage, 35 homers and 286 RBIs in 1,273 games.