There were no formal contract negotiations between Terry Francona and the Guardians, just a five-minute conversation among friends.
He told them he wants to keep managing. They gladly accepted.
Francona’s unique partnership in Cleveland will carry into 2023 as the 63-year-old has agreed to return with the club after leading the majors’ youngest team to a division title and the AL Division Series this season.
While Francona hasn’t formally signed a deal, he said Friday that he intends to be back for an 11th season. His health has improved dramatically after major scares, plus Francona wants to see what’s next for the Guardians.
“I love the fact that we have something that could be pretty special here moving forward,” he said. “I enjoyed the heck out of our players this year. I want to see that group grow and I’d like to be a part of that.”
The Guardians wouldn’t want it any other way.
President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti reiterated that there are no parameters on Francona when it comes to his tenure. Essentially, he can manage in Cleveland for as long as he’d like.
“There was never a question in our minds of Tito returning,” Antonetti said. “It was more just on what made sense for him. We’ve made it really clear: We want Tito to continue to manage as long as he wants to manage and it makes sense for him health-wise.”
Francona resisted putting a timeline on his agreement.
“We’re just going to kind of go year-to-year,” he said. “It’s just the way it should be with my health. The organization’s been too good to me.”
Francona was forced to step aside the past two seasons due to health complications ranging from gastrointestinal issues to a staph infection that led to a lengthy hospitalization and several surgeries.
Although, he’ll undergo another operation next week, Francona is much healthier than he’s been in a while. True to form, he poked fun at his situation when asked what doctors told him after a recent physical.
“If I’m breathing, then I’m good,” he said. “I passed if I’m breathing.”
Francona acknowledged there was a stretch this season when the two-time World Series winner with the Red Sox wondered if he had reached the end.
“I probably gave thought to how long I wanted to do this more than maybe I had in the past,” he said. “I don’t know that meant necessarily this year, but sometimes it can be tough and I put a lot on the coaches.”
John Schneider stays on in Toronto
By his own admission, John Schneider never amounted to much as a baseball player. Now, Schneider has fulfilled a dream he’d pursued for 15 years since giving up on playing and choosing to coach instead.
Toronto’s former bench coach, Schneider was named the 14th manager in Blue Jays history, signing a three-year contract with the team he led on an interim basis for 78 games in 2022. The contract includes a team option for 2026.
“I’ve said it before, this is a dream scenario for me,” Schneider said. “I couldn’t ask for a better situation. This organization has made me feel like a family member since day one. I’m just extremely humbled and honored to lead this group and hopefully achieve our goal of winning a World Series.”
Schneider, 42, went 46-28 as interim manager after replacing Charlie Montoyo in July. Toronto finished as the top AL wild card at 92-70 but was swept out of the playoffs in two games by visiting Seattle, blowing an 8-1 lead in the second game and losing 10-9.
“As bad as an ending is when you don’t win, I think it’s really good going forward for the next year,” Schneider said.
Drafted by Toronto in 2002, Schneider was a minor league catcher for six seasons before becoming a minor league manager in 2009. He spent 10 seasons managing in the minors, winning championships at three levels, before joining the Blue Jays’ big league staff as major league coach in 2019. He became bench coach before the 2022 season.
“When I turned the page from a very mediocre playing career to coaching in the minor leagues, this was kind of the end goal,” Schneider said. “I think it makes it that much more special to be sitting here with this hat and this jersey on.”
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins praised Schneider for his preparation and decision-making.
“One of the many attractive things about John is how prepared he is,” Atkins said. “That allows him to be agile in a game. Agility is huge, and being able to rely on experiences and ultimately trust your process to make decisions in the moment has to be there. It was evident to us that he was prepared to have that confidence to be agile.”
Bruce Bochy unretires to lead Rangers
In a surprise announcement, the Texas Rangers let it be known that Bruce Bochy was hired as their new manager, bringing the three-time World Series champion with 2,003 career victories out of a short retirement to take over a team that has had six consecutive losing seasons. Bochy agreed to a three-year contract.
The 67-year-old Bochy hasn’t managed since 2019, when he stepped away after 13 seasons and those World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants. The first championship came in five games over Texas in 2010, and the Giants won again in 2012 and 2014.
Rangers general manager Chris Young was a pitcher for San Diego in 2006, which was Bochy’s final season with the Padres before going to San Francisco.
“As we went through the interview process, Bruce’s passion and excitement about returning to the dugout was very evident,” Young said. “It became clear he was the ideal individual to lead our club as we continue to build a championship culture here in Arlington.”
Bochy was 951-975 in 12 seasons with the Padres (1995-2006) and took them to their last World Series in 1998. The former big league catcher had a 1,052-1,054 record in San Francisco from 2007-19.
The Rangers said they’d hold an introductory news conference on Monday. Bochy said in a statement he was excited to be joining the team after several days of extensive conversations with Young and a meeting with owner Ray Davis.
“Their vision and commitment to putting together a club that can contend and win year in and year out is impressive, and I became convinced I wanted to be a part of that,” Bochy said. “If I was going to return to managing, it had to be the right situation. I strongly believe that to be the case with the Rangers, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Fourth-year Rangers manager Chris Woodward was fired Aug. 15, two days before president of baseball operations Jon Daniels was also let go. Tony Beasley finished the season as manager and interviewed for the full-time job two days after the season ended.
The Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals and Miami Marlins have the three remaining manager openings among the 30 teams.