SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 5:  John Farrell #53 of the Boston Red Sox looks out from the dugout before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on September 5, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Red Sox exercise 2018 option on manager John Farrell

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ESPN’s Scott Lauber reports that the Red Sox have exercised their 2018 option on manager John Farrell. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that “players played hard for him” and cited the skipper’s “solid presence.”

Farrell, 54, has a 339-309 (.523) record in four seasons at the helm in Boston. He led the Red Sox to a championship in his first season with the club in 2013 and led them back to the playoffs this past season, ultimately swept out of the ALDS by the Indians.

The Red Sox made the deicsion to bring Farrell back for the 2017 season shortly after the team was pushed out of the playoffs in October.

John Farrell will return to manage Red Sox in 2017

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 5:  John Farrell #53 of the Boston Red Sox looks out from the dugout before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on September 5, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Though the Red Sox were abruptly escorted out of the 2016 postseason, manager John Farrell will return to manage the club next season, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said, “John Farrell will be our manager for 2017. He is all set and his whole staff will be invited back.”

As for 2018, Dombrowski said, “Something of that magnitude I need to sit down with ownership and discuss that,” as Dellich reports.

In Farrell’s four years with the Red Sox, the club has gone 339-309 (.523), winning the World Series in 2013, finishing in fifth place in the AL East in 2014 and ’15, and winning the AL East this season.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.