Ron Roenicke won’t be managing the Red Sox in 2021, the team announced. In an official press release from the Sox, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said the following:
“Throughout this difficult season, Ron’s consistency and professionalism kept the environment in our clubhouse productive and gave all of our players room to grow and develop. While we believe that, moving forward, we will benefit from new leadership and new energy, that does not diminish how strongly we feel about Ron. He is a man of the highest character who cares about our players and the Red Sox organization. As bench coach, he helped this team win a world championship. As manager, he showed poise and leadership in navigating an extremely challenging year. We are grateful for all of his contributions in our uniform.”
The release also stated that “a search for a new manager will begin immediately,” though speculation has already focused on whether or not this search will somewhat quickly center around Boston’s old manager — Alex Cora. The Red Sox fired Cora last January, a day after he was implicated as a major instigator of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in his previous role as Houston’s bench coach. The Sox interviewed several names as Cora’s replacement before deciding to promote Roenicke from bench coach to interim manager (and then eventually, full-time manager once the interim tag was removed in April).
Major League Baseball ended up suspending Cora for the 2020 season for his role in the Astros’ scandal, and it’s worth noting that back in April, Bloom and Red Sox president Sam Kennedy both indicated that there were no plans to eventually bring Cora back into the fold. Barring any updated statements from Red Sox brass or from Cora himself, the speculation about a potential reunion is likely to continue until a new manager has been hired.
If Cora isn’t the choice, it will be fascinating to see who Bloom chooses in his first proper managerial hire since taking over Boston’s front office last year. Former coaches and players with ties to the Rays (Bloom’s old organization) will surely be mentioned as candidates, and one would imagine a new skipper might be a first-time hire who is both relatively young and not far removed from a playing career. This fits the description of both Rays manager Kevin Cash and Cora at the time of his initial hire with the Sox, so both Bloom and Red Sox upper management might feel comfortable with this type of modern managerial profile.
Roenicke will manage today’s game, looking to end a tough season on a high note. The Red Sox are 23-36 and currently in last place in the AL East, thanks in large part to a lack of pitching. Injuries (Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez chief among them) were a big culprit, though the Sox seemingly lacked rotation depth even when those two arms were expected to be part of the 2020 staff. Between the on-field struggles, the twin aftermaths of Cora’s firing and the Mookie Betts trade lingering over Fenway Park, and the unforeseen circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bloom’s description of 2020 as “an extremely challenging year” is an understatement.
The 64-year-old Roenicke took on a big league managerial post for the second time in his career, following a five-year stint with the Brewers from 2011-15. Beyond his managerial jobs in Boston and Milwaukee, Roenicke has over 20 years as a Major League coach and as a minor league coach and manager. Roenicke’s coaching resume includes a pair of World Series rings, one in 2002 as the Angels’ third base coach and another in 2018 as Boston’s bench coach.