It’s fair to start to wonder about Alex Cora’s future with potential rebuild ahead

Big league managers have only one job: to win today. The good guys can keep an eye on tomorrow by not overloading their relievers, making sure regulars get the occasional break, and maybe giving that tired starter an extra day of rest. They can juggle illness, day game after night, too much time on grass, and whatever else crops up over the course of 162.

Other than that, unless they explicitly sign up for a remodel, they don’t care much about next year, let alone three years from now. They are not blessed with that kind of job security. Today’s great work developing young talent can be tomorrow’s place on the unemployment line while someone else reaps the fruits of your labor. Buck Showalter learned this lesson by prepping the ’90s Yankees Championship just in time to hand them over to Joe Torre for all the glory — not to mention a spot in the Hall of Fame.

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When it comes to great managers today, Alex Cora ranks near the top of the list. As a bench coach, he helped the Astros win a World Series (albeit while pushing boundaries and ultimately paying a heavy price). As a rookie manager with the Red Sox, he won 108 games and a World Series. He returned from exile last year to send a flawed roster to Game 6 of the American League Championship Series by being creative with his bullpen. No manager will hit 1,000, but the Red Sox can be confident that they will usually win the brain teaser in the dugout.

Now if managers are to win as a general rule, Cora shifts that attitude to 11. He may have become humbled after his years-long suspension for masterminding Houston’s plate-stealing plot, but he hasn’t lost an ounce of competitiveness. He deliberately portrays an equal keel after wins and losses, but the former just takes him to tomorrow, while the latter eats him up. When you hire someone to lead a team, you wouldn’t want it any other way.

However, the Red Sox have reached the proverbial crossroads under head baseball officer Chaim Bloom, and it’s unclear how Cora fits into the future. On Monday, Bloom shocked the clubhouse by trading starting catcher Christian Vazquez to the rival Astros during a series in Houston. He later acquired outfielder Tommy Pham and first baseman Eric Hosmer, moves that will likely make the Red Sox slightly better on paper by improving some of baseball’s worst productions at first base and right field.

But Handel Vazquez had already set a tone that management did not believe in this year’s club. The players made their disappointment public, with Xander Bogaerts unable to “wave the white flag” idea and third baseman Rafael Devers saying, “I’m not too happy that Vazquez has left the team.”

At the center of it all is Cora, and it’s fair to wonder what the future holds. It’s very possible that he will write lineup cards by the start of next season without Bogaerts, Devers or JD Martinez in the middle of it. His rotation is unlikely to include All-Star righthander Nathan Eovaldi. He has no idea who’s going to catch, and his bet is as good as ours in supporting the likes of Kiké Hernández, Rich Hill and Matt Strahm. That can’t be attractive.

It’s a lot of talent to replace in one off-season, especially now that the American League East is now so deep that even the long-suffering Orioles are making a playoff push. Complicating any path back to immediate contention is that until now Bloom has been hesitant to trade prospects or spend aggressively in free agency.

That’s not what Cora first signed on to, when Dave Dombrowski hired him to push the club’s young players over the top, resulting in an MVP for Mookie Betts and a championship. It’s not what he expected when he returned to a core that included Devers, Bogaerts, Martinez, Chris Sale and Eovaldi last year.

Cora is signed through 2024, and there is already fear that those years will be meager as the Red Sox wait for prospects like shortstop Marcelo Mayer and second baseman Nick Yorke to come of age, and even then there is no guarantee that they will be stars.

Ownership and management seem happy in the long run, with Bloom concentrating on the farm and fixing shortfalls in the margins in an effort to stay competitive, even if there are only so many value purchases that can take you without the underlying stars to ship to drive.

If I’m Alex Cora, with young twins at home and an outspoken desire not to make it into old age, do I really want to oversee a nebulous reconstruction that’s more focused on 2025 than 2023? Until there is clarity about the team’s approach going forward, it’s reasonable to wonder how long the manager will be part of it.

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