Will Alex Cora, AJ Hinch or Carlos Beltran manage again? MLB insiders explain why one could return in 2021


On Wednesday, Major League Baseball released commissioner Rob Manfred’s investigation into the 2018 Boston Red Sox and their misuse of technology to steal signs during games. Manfred’s report on the Red Sox was subdued compared to the one he published in January concerning the 2017 Houston Astros, a document that triggered the dismissals of three managers: AJ Hinch (Astros), Alex Cora (Red Sox), and Carlos Beltran (New York Mets). 

Although no one was fired on Wednesday, Cora did receive his long-awaited punishment: a season-long suspension, the same as the one previously imposed upon Hinch. Beltran has and will continue to skate without league-issued sanction, the same as his former Astros teammates, but it’s fair to think that this ordeal has ensured he’ll be forever linked with Hinch and Cora. All three of Hinch, Cora and Beltran will be eligible to manage or work for a team in 2021, even if the coronavirus cancels the 2020 season entirely.

With the question of the Red Sox’s sins and discipline now in the rearview mirror, there are some reasonable questions to ask. What comes next for the aforementioned trio? Will a team dare to hire any of them moving forward, or do these controversies mark the end of their managerial careers?

To find out, we polled a number of folks inside the game. Here’s what they had to say.

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Some insiders think AJ Hinch will be in a dugout again soon.
USATSI

AJ Hinch

If someone from the trio is going to manage in the majors again, the smart money is on it being Hinch. One source answered by saying “Hinch for sure,” while another said they could envision him returning to the dugout as soon as next season, or just months after he’s reinstated.

The key elements working in Hinch’s favor include his impressive track record — he won 59 percent of his games over four years in Houston, as well as a pennant and a World Series — and the amends he made (or attempted to make, anyway) following his uprooting.

“Regardless of if you think he was more involved than he claims to have been, he has at least taken some form of accountability for his role and has apologized for not doing more to stop what was going on,” one source said. “I think people will be more willing to forgive a lapse in leadership as opposed to having a direct hand in the execution of the scandal. 

“Again, that’s assuming you take him at his word.”

Hinch, for those who may have forgotten, was said to have destroyed two monitors in an attempt to stop the sign-stealing operation. He also sidestepped a question during a post-scandal sit down with MLB Network’s Tom Verducci, but that may not matter in the end.

“The contrition he showed after the report came out seemed sincere,” another source said. “And he’s a good manager, I think.”

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

Alex Cora faces an uncertain future after being involved in two cheating scandals.
Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Alex Cora

Cora issued an apology of his own on Wednesday. And, at least publicly, he still has the support of his former bosses. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said of Cora: “He does need to go through a rehabilitation process. What he did was wrong. He acknowledged it to us and apologized to us for that. But I’m a big believer in second chances and we all wish him well.”

Even with Cora having Kennedy’s blessing, and a two-year stretch that saw him win 59 percent of his games plus a world title, our insiders were mixed on his future managerial prospects. Those who believed he would get another look cautioned that it could take some time.

“He’s good at managing the clubhouse, and he may be a good [in-game] manager,” one source said, “but being associated with two cheating scandals … I don’t know how an owner sells that “

In the court of league circles, Cora may end up being charged with more crimes than he committed. For example, an owner might find it hard to reconcile how Cora could be identified as a ringleader in the Houston scandal, and then, a year later, as simply a bystander in Boston.

New York Mets Introduce Carlos Beltran - Press Conference

This is as close as Carlos Beltran got to managing in Citi Field.
Rich Schultz / Getty Images

Carlos Beltran

Then there’s Beltran, who was fired a little more than two months after his appointment as the Mets manager without so much as first overseeing a stretching session. 

Beltran initially denied that he was aware of the Astros’ cheating. He was later revealed to have been one of its biggest proponents behind the scenes, leaving the Mets with little choice but to move on. (They later hired Luis Rojas, the son of longtime big-league skipper Felipe Alou.)

“I don’t think that he did anything ‘more’ or ‘extra’ compared to the others,” a source said of Beltran, “but he never got a chance to establish the cred the other two did.”

So, will Beltran ever get a chance to manage in the majors, the way he seemed destined to later on during his playing career? Our insiders were pessimistic about his odds.

“I like him and think he should,” a source said, “but I’m doubtful.”

For those wondering, Beltran (and the others) all fared better in our poll than former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. No one who spoke to CBS Sports believed Luhnow would again work in baseball.





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