Tribe Adds Two More Years of Tito
Bob Toth | On 05, Nov 2016
The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday morning that the organization had exercised club options on manager Terry Francona for two additional seasons, inking him for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
The move was paired with the formal announcement that the club option for first baseman/designated hitter Carlos Santana was picked up at a cost of $12 million, keeping the switch-hitting slugger in the Tribe lineup for the 2017 season.
Francona took an injury-depleted Cleveland roster to the seventh game of the World Series, losing in heartbreaking fashion in ten innings on Wednesday night, 8-7, to the Chicago Cubs in the Indians’ first appearance in extended postseason action since 2007 and its first Fall Classic trip since another seventh game heartbreaker back in 1997.
The 57-year-old Francona completed his fourth season in Cleveland and led the team to the second-best record in the American League. Wins over Boston in the ALDS and Toronto in the ALCS earned the team the American League pennant in October.
The Indians went 94-67 under Francona’s leadership in 2016, giving the veteran manager his fourth straight winning season in Cleveland and his 12th straight overall, including all eight of his seasons with the Red Sox from 2004 to 2011. His Tribe team this season improved its record by 13 games over its mark from one season ago, despite losing outfielder Michael Brantley, catcher Yan Gomes, and starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar for stretches throughout the season with injuries, and outfielders Abraham Almonte and Marlon Byrd to lengthy suspensions due to performance enhancing drug use.
Francona is now 352-294 (.545) as the manager of the Indians. In just four years with the club, he has tallied the eighth-most wins in franchise history and has the sixth-best winning percentage among full-time skippers for the team.
Cleveland’s claim to the AL pennant was the third league championship won by a Francona-led club. He did similar with the Red Sox in 2004 and again in 2007. Both of those clubs went on to sweep the World Series from St. Louis and Colorado, respectively. His 8-0 record in the Fall Classic came to an end with a loss in Game 2 of the series this season to the Cubs and he fell to 11-4 all-time in the championship round in the finale.
Francona began his managerial career with four losing seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997 to 2000, finishing no higher than third in the National League East during that time.
By locking up their skipper for two more seasons, Francona will be under contract with the Indians through the 2020 season. Coming off of a season in which the underdog club exceeded many expectations in the face of the injury losses, the window of opportunity appears to be open for many seasons to come, with many of the big contributors of the club now locked up through at least the 2020 season with Francona at the helm.
Corey Kluber, Jason Kipnis, Carrasco, and Gomes all have team options in place for the 2020 season (with Carrasco additionally having a team option for the 2019 year). In addition, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Trevor Bauer, Roberto Perez, and Salazar would still be working their way through the arbitration process, although contract extensions could alter that for some of those mentioned.
The Indians also announced on Friday a pair of front office moves to their Baseball Operations staff.
Carter Hawkins, formerly the club’s Director of Player Development, has been promoted to Assistant General Manager. Matt Forman, who was named the Director of Baseball Operations prior to the 2016 season, was also promoted to Assistant General Manager.
The two will work with General Manager Mike Chernoff and President Chris Antonetti in Baseball Operations. The Indians previously lost Assistant General Manager Derek Falvey at the end of the regular season when he was named the executive vice president and chief baseball officer of the Minnesota Twins.
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