Excluding the job in Boston he just vacated, there’s only one current managerial opening for Terry
Francona. The White Sox, though, aren’t believed to be all that interested, in large part because Francona is sure to want to remain one of the game’s highest-paid managers (and deservedly so).
So, where to for Terry? The North Side of Chicago with the Cubs could be an option, depending on whom they hire as a general manager. It seems likely that the replacement for Jim Hendry there will want to make a change from Mike Quade.
But I think there’s another possibility. There’s been plenty of speculation that 67-year-old Tony La Russa could retire in St. Louis. Some have even suggested he might like to finish his career back with the White Sox (the team he managed from 1979-1986). La Russa, like Francona, is finishing up his latest contract, so he wouldn’t have to resign or get fired.
And if La Russa leaves, Francona to St. Louis seems like a perfect match. The Cardinals are used to having one of the game’s highest-paid managers, so spending $4 million per year on Francona isn’t a stretch, and Francona is pretty much the perfect manager to take over a contender and keep it contending. Even if they lose Albert Pujols this winter, the Cards would still very much be a threat in the NL Central.
So, it’s a possibility, even if it’s more likely at this point that La Russa will stay another year. Which could mean that Francona will go into broadcasting for a bit and wait for another glamour job to open up.
Anyway, here’s Terry in his own words from Friday evening’s press conference.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.