Terry Francona’s contract is up after the season, and the veteran manager told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that he has been in talks with team officials about his future with the Guardians. It seems basically a foregone conclusion that Francona will remain as the Guards’ skipper beyond 2022, and yet given Francona’s multiple health issues, he is cognizant about the potential end of his managerial career. “I want to enjoy what I’m doing. It’s getting harder to do that, just because physically it’s harder,” Francona said. “I just want to be careful. And at the same time, I want to be fair to the team.” The respect goes both ways with Cleveland’s front office, as president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said that “I want to make sure [Francona] never feels he has this obligation to keep doing the job because he owes us anything. I want him to do what’s best for him.”
Antonetti and team owner Paul Dolan have both said in the past that Francona can manage the Guardians for essentially as long as he feels up to the job, while Francona told Rosenthal that he might have already retired if he had been with any other team. Speculatively, it would seem like any sort of formal contract extension between the two sides could perhaps take the form of a one-year deal with a rolling option, to be exercised should Francona feel he is ready to keep managing beyond 2023. A decision might not be made until after Francona’s latest medical procedure takes place in the offseason — he is scheduled to have drains removed from his back, and Francona estimates that this will be roughly his 46th surgery.
Some items from around both the AL and NL Central divisions….
- Back on August 11, Tim Anderson underwent surgery to fix a torn ligament in his left middle finger, and White Sox acting manager Miguel Cairo told reporters (including Ryan Taylor of NBC Sports Chicago) today that Anderson was scheduled to visit a hand specialist on Tuesday. “We’re going to see from there” what the next step is in Anderson’s rehab, Cairo said, adding that the shortstop is “doing good.” Anderson was hitting .301/.339/.395 over his first 351 plate appearances of the season. Assuming the visit with the specialist goes well, there should still be time for Anderson to properly rehab and get back to the White Sox before the season is over, thus giving the Sox a big late boost in their push for the AL Central crown.
- While the Pirates aren’t in a pennant race, they’re also expecting a key player back in closer David Bednar, as GM Ben Cherington said in an interview with 93.7 The Fan radio (hat tip to MLB.com’s Justice delos Santos). Bednar has been out of action since late July due to lower back inflammation, but Bednar threw a bullpen session yesterday and Cherington said Bednar could begin a rehab assignment this week. The right-hander has emerged as a major bullpen weapon (and popular trade ask) over the last two seasons, with Bednar posting a 2.70 ERA and a superb 33.5% strikeout rate over 46 2/3 innings in 2022.
- The Cubs’ season “has been a success” in the view of chairman Tom Ricketts, who told The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan and other reporters that he has been impressed by the team’s progress in bringing along its young players and young pitchers. Since the Cubs’ last rebuild resulted in the 2016 World Series championship, Ricketts feels that “having done it once, and largely with the same people, it gives me a lot of confidence that we’ll do it the right way again.” As to whether or not the Cubs will start to invest more into payroll this winter, Ricketts somewhat vaguely said that president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has “got a lot of flexibility, and we’ll let him do it,” adding that the “ball is in Jed’s court when it comes to how and where” any funds are invested. Of course, this isn’t exactly a full-on declaration that the Cubs are ready to start spending big, as while Seiya Suzuki and Marcus Stroman were two more expensive additions last winter, Hoyer stuck mostly to less-costly, shorter-term free agents.