It looks like the Red Sox can cross one item off their offseason to-do list – hiring a new manager.
Incumbent Alex Cora gave his clearest signal yet that he'll return for the final year of his contract when asked about his job security before Wednesday's home finale.
"I'm good," Cora said. "I'll be here next year."
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He repeated, "I'll be here next year," twice when asked a follow-up about receiving an assurance from ownership.
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It appeared that John Henry and Co. had picked a side when they relieved chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom of his duties but kept Cora on as manager, rather than fully cleaning house. Cora's assertion on Wednesday only reinforces that notion.
While the Red Sox could've played better in certain areas this season, particularly on the bases and defensively, the club's slide towards a third last-place finish in four years is generally recognized as a failure of team building rather than usage.
When starting shortstop Trevor Story underwent elbow surgery in January, after all, the front office did nothing to replace him, and shifting lifelong utilityman Kiké Hernández from center proved disastrous. Baseball operations similarly left Cora few options in left field, where free agent Masataka Yoshida proved a competent hitter but brutal defender. Corner infielders Rafael Devers and Triston Casas earned everyday at-bats offensively, but struggled defensively, too.
If anything, Cora can be credited with maximizing a pitching staff that navigated June and especially July with zero margin for error, thanks to injuries to starters Chris Sale, Garrett Whitlock, and Tanner Houck.
The Red Sox hit the trade deadline just a half-game out of the wild card, at which point Bloom referred to the team as underdogs, made no significant moves to upgrade the roster, and then watched the Red Sox get swept by Toronto to fall out of wild card contention for good.
That said, Cora could've still been on the chopping block, since the Red Sox must hire someone to replace Bloom and that person conceivably could've decided to make a change at manager.
It sounds like that move is off the table, however, and that Cora will come with the job. Considering that he has already won a World Series in Boston, led another team to Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, and helped keep this mediocre roster afloat for nearly five months, it's certainly defensible that ownership has decided to stick with him.