BOSTON --- Less than 15 months after guiding the Red Sox to their fourth World Series championship this century, Alex Cora is out as Boston’s manager.

The club released a statement late Tuesday night saying “we mutually agreed to part ways.” Cora was in the crosshairs of Major League Baseball regarding two investigations into electronic sign stealing, including during his historic 2018 debut with the Red Sox.

Cora was named 11 times in a nine-page report released Monday by MLB, one that detailed its findings and penalties regarding malfeasance committed by the Astros in 2017. Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were handed one-year bans by commissioner Rob Manfred before being fired by Astros owner Jim Crane. Houston was fined $5 million and stripped of its top two draft picks in both 2020 and 2021.

“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,” the Red Sox statement said in part. Boston’s comments were attributed to principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and CEO Sam Kennedy.

“This is a sad day for us,” the statement continued. “Alex is a special person and a 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 served as Hinch’s bench coach and was described as a central figure in the scheme that helped the Astros capture a championship. His alleged wrongdoing in Boston included illegally using the video room adjacent to the home dugout at Fenway Park. MLB is investigating whether or not Red Sox players and staff members learned sign sequences employed by opposing teams and relayed them to hitters from first base or second base.

“We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization,” Cora said in the 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.”

Cora’s October 2017 hiring was a groundbreaking one, as he became the first Boston manager of color since the club’s 1901 founding. His rookie season saw the Red Sox roll to a record 108 wins and storm past the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers on their way to a title. Mookie Betts was the runaway winner of the American League Most Valuable Player award, J.D. Martinez enjoyed a career year at the plate after his offseason signing as a free agent and Boston appeared poised for an extended run of dominance atop the sport.

All of that soured in 2019, as the Red Sox slumped to an 84-78 mark and missed the playoffs. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was fired in September and Chaim Bloom was hired away from Tampa Bay to become the chief baseball officer. Offseason trade rumors involving Betts, David Price and Jackie Bradley Jr. were certain to dominate the February conversation at spring training prior to Tuesday’s events.

Manfred refrained from disciplining Cora in connection with the Astros affair, waiting until the findings of the Boston investigation are made public. It was widely expected Cora would receive a similar ban to those imposed on Hinch and Luhnow, and a one-year suspension would have covered half of his remaining contract. The Red Sox extended Cora through 2021 and agreed on a club option for 2022 after brushing Los Angeles aside in five games.

This is the second time Boston has been implicated in electronic sign stealing, the first coming in 2017. Monday’s report detailed Manfred’s warning to all major league clubs after the Red Sox were found to be using an Apple Watch to transmit signs from the video room to the dugout. It’s reasonable to surmise Boston’s potential penalties following the conclusion of the current investigation could be more severe as a result of being two-time offenders.

“I specifically stated in this memorandum that the general manager and field manager of clubs would be held accountable for any violations of the rules in the future,” Manfred said. “Thus, all clubs were put on notice as of Sept. 15, 2017, that any use of electronic equipment to steal signs would be dealt with more severely by my office.”

Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers in less than a month, and Bloom will be forced to begin an immediate managerial search. Bench coach Ron Roenicke and special assistant to the front office Jason Varitek could emerge as internal candidates. Bloom’s connections with the Rays could also lead him to Matt Quatraro, who serves as manager Kevin Cash’s bench coach and interviewed with the Giants and Pirates this offseason.

The next Red Sox manager will be the fourth since Terry Francona was fired following the 2011 season. Francona’s eight years resulted in a pair of championships, including the 2004 title that ended The Curse. John Farrell (2013) and Cora also won championships in their debut seasons while Bobby Valentine lasted only the disastrous 2012 campaign, going 69-93.

bkoch@providencejournal.com

On Twitter: @BillKoch25