Since he was first hired — and then re-hired — as manager of the Boston Red Sox, Alex Cora has seemingly always known what buttons to push.
He led Boston to arguably its best season ever in his first season as manager, helping the Red Sox capture the 2018 World Series title. Then in his first year back this season he led the club from the AL East basement to the American League Championship Series.
Now the Red Sox have made sure Cora will continue pulling the levers for years to come.
Monday morning the Red Sox announced they will pick up Cora's club options for 2023 and 2024, ensuring he remains with the club for the next three seasons. Cora had initially re-joined the club on a two-year deal with the two option years, and the Red Sox did not have to make a decision on those years until after this coming season.
But after Cora worked his magic once again this past season, there was a prevailing sentiment throughout the organization. Why wait?
"It was clear to me and all of us here that going forward with Alex in a longer term partnership is something that would be good for everybody," said Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. "Once we knew that it made sense to formalize it as soon as possible."
During his press conference announcing the moving, Bloom said Cora possesses a unique combination of qualities that help bring out the best in players. He has a great feel for the game and is able to notice things on the field and incorporate those observations into his gameplan on the fly. He is also a great leader and motivator who has the ability to take a clubhouse to another level.
"There aren't many people who can bring both of those things to the table in abundance like Alex does and on top of that he's a great guy to work with," Bloom said. "He's charismatic, he's funny and he's real, and you need that through the ups and downs of a baseball season."
That Cora has reached this point wasn't always a guarantee. He followed up his outstanding debut season with a dud of a 2019 campaign, and then he nearly saw his career go up in smoke after he was implicated in the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. Cora was intimately involved as the club's bench coach during that 2017 World Series season, but after serving his one-year suspension the Red Sox gave him a second chance and he capitalized.
Now, Cora once again looks set to enjoy a long run as Red Sox manager.
Bloom: 'We're very active'
During his press conference Bloom also touched on the team's offseason activity to this point. While he did not confirm any specific deals that might be in the works, he said the team has been actively involved and that the team has had discussions with "just about everyone who is on the market" as far as starting pitchers.
"We don't have anything teed up that I would say is close but we're very active in conversations with a few different guys," Bloom said. "I don't know right now if that's going to lead to anything or when, I think by the time the offseason is over we will have added pitching of various sorts, including starting pitching, I think that's a clear goal of ours. But who that's going to be or when, I don't know yet."
Bloom also confirmed the team has been active in the busy middle infielder market, which is flush with top talent including MVP candidates like Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien.
"The short answer is yes," Bloom said. "We have enough flexibility and versatility with this roster that it gives us a lot of different ways to add impact and talent. We owe it to ourselves to look into all of those avenues."
As far as the vacancies on the team's coaching staff, Bloom said the team has made significant progress but isn't ready to finalize any hires. The Red Sox are currently looking for a new first base coach and an additional hitting coach, as well as a Triple-A manager for the Worcester Red Sox.
Bloom was also asked about the team's front office plans, and he said the team likely won't have any announcements ready until after Thanksgiving. According to Chad Jennings of The Athletic, the Red Sox are planning to hire Brewers executive Mike Groopman as an assistant general manager.
Mac Cerullo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.