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Alex Cora out as Red Sox manager after being implicated in MLB report on Astros' sign-stealing

The Boston Red Sox did not wait for Major League Baseball to complete its investigation into the team's alleged high-tech sign-stealing during their 2018 World Series championship campaign to take action. Tuesday night the Red Sox announced they have mutually parted ways with manager Alex Cora, who was heavily implicated in MLB's investigation into the Astros' scandal

Cora was Houston's bench coach in 2017 and joined the Red Sox as their manager in 2018.

"Today we met to discuss the Commissioner's report related to the Houston Astros investigation," said owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and CEO Sam Kennedy in a statement. "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 have mutually agreed to part ways.

"This is a sad day for us," the statement added. "Alex is a special personal and 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, 44, guided the Red Sox to a franchise record 108 wins en route to the 2018 World Series title. The 2017 season was his only season with the Astros. Prior to that he worked as a television analyst from 2013-16. Cora's playing career came to an end in spring training 2012.

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"I want to thank John, Tom, Sam, the players, our coaching staff and the entire Red Sox organization," Cora said in a statement. "I especially want to thank my family for their love and support."

Here's what you need to know about the Red Sox and Cora parting ways, and the team's alleged sign-stealing activity.

Cora said he didn't want to be 'distraction'

Alex Cora is out after two years with the Red Sox. USATSI

The Astros fired manager A.J. Hinch after he was suspended for his role in the sign-stealing scheme. Once that happened, it felt inevitable the Red Sox would dismiss Cora given his role in the scandal. In Tuesday's statement, Cora said he did not want to be a distraction moving forward, which led to the two sides parting ways.

"We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization," Cora said in a statement. "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."

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Cora was heavily implicated in Astros scandal

Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a nine-page report detailing MLB's investigation into Houston's sign-stealing scandal and Cora was mentioned 11 times. He was the only non-player implicated and is still subject to MLB discipline stemming from the league's investigation into the Red Sox. From Manfred's report:

Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players' conduct. I will withhold determining the appropriate level of discipline for Cora until after the DOI completes its investigation of the allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign stealing in 2018 while Cora was the manager.

It's unclear when MLB will conclude its investigation into the Red Sox and announce discipline for Cora. Hinch was suspended one year for his role in the sign-stealing scheme. Manfred's report indicated Cora was a central figure in Houston's scheme and he may have played a similar role with the Red Sox, so his punishment could be even more severe.

The Red Sox will be disciplined

MLB is currently investigating the Red Sox after reports surfaced indicating the club used illegal electronics to steal signs in 2018, much like the Astros did in 2017. The Red Sox were fined for using Apple Watches to steal signs in Sept. 2017, which prompted MLB to crack down on high-tech sign-stealing.

Two lines from Manfred's statement in Sept. 2017 stand out:

  • "I have received absolute assurances from the Red Sox that there will be no future violations of this type."
  • "(All) 30 Clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions"

Even if MLB's investigation reveals the Red Sox did not have a sign-stealing system as elaborate or widespread as Houston's, it stands to reason Manfred will discipline the team given his previous warnings. Cora will undoubtedly be disciplined given Manfred's report on the Astros. The Red Sox themselves face punishment as well.

Boston has to find a new manager

Red Sox pitchers and catchers are due to report to spring training on Feb. 11. That gives the club exactly four weeks to find a new manager but, in reality, they need to name a new manager well before then. Spring training schedules and plans have to be finalized in advance and the manager must be part of that process. This is time sensitive.

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Here are five candidates to replace Cora. Keep in mind chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who came over from the Rays, has only been with the club since October and may not want to promote from within to fill the manager's spot.

Beltran remains with the Mets

Carlos Beltran, the only 2017 Astros player implicated by name in Manfred's report, remains with the Mets as their manager. He was hired earlier this offseason -- Beltran originally said he had no knowledge of a sign-stealing scheme in Houston -- and the Mets have not yet commented on Beltran's status since the Astros were disciplined.

MLB granted players immunity for their cooperation during the Astros' investigation and those protections apply to Beltran, who was a player then and a manager now. Still, the Mets could feel pressure to dismiss Beltran given his role in the sign-stealing scheme now that Hinch and Cora have been let go. For now, there are no indications the Mets are ready to make a change.

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