Terry Francona won’t manage in 2012

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Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com spoke with Terry Francona, who says that he will not seek to manage in 2012 “for my benefit.”

Francona interviewed with the Cardinals and said he would have liked that job, but they went with Mike Matheny. He says he’s been in contact with Theo Epstein in Chicago, but says it’s not the right opportunity. As such, he’s preemptively bowing out of any other jobs should they become vacant.

I think it’s probably a good call by Francona because (a) everyone could use a break and (b) I think Francona was pretty awesome on TV in the playoffs and would love to see more of him.  But one wonders how much of a choice this really was.

I mean, if you’re Theo Epstein, and you don’t really want to hire Francona, don’t you maybe suggest to him — out of courtesy — to make such an announcement before you hire, say, Mike Maddux?  So no one could write the “Epstein snubs Tito, goes with Maddux” stories?

Fine. Call me a conspiracy theorist. I don’t care.  Whatever the case, enjoy the year off, Terry.

Report: Indians, Padres still talking about starting pitching trade

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.

The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.

Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.

Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.

The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.