The Indians have found their man.
Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that Terry Francona will manage the Indians. The club is expected to make an official announcement Monday.
Francona just came in for an interview with the Indians yesterday, but he has been considered the favorite over the past week or two. According to Nick Camino of WTAM 1100 in Cleveland, the former Red Sox skipper said on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight last night that he was only considering whether to manage the Indians next season or return to his broadcasting job at ESPN. Sandy Alomar, Jr., who finished the season as the interim manager after Manny Acta was fired, was the only other known candidate for the permanent job.
Some may call the Indians an odd destination for Francona on the surface, as they don’t have the talent or the payroll that he was blessed with in Boston, but maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. Francona worked as an advisor with the Indians in 2001 and has maintained a relationship with general manager Chris Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro. Of course, Francona’s father, Tito Francona, played six seasons for the Indians from 1959-64.
Francona owns a 1,029-915 record over 12 seasons as manager with the Phillies and Red Sox. He led Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. The Indians admittedly aren’t close to the World Series after finishing this season at 68-94, but Francona’s hiring at least provides some reason for hope in the near future.
UPDATE, 18:23 PM: The Indians have confirmed the news through their Twitter feed.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.