The Guardians announced this afternoon that Terry Francona has officially stepped down from his role as the club’s manager. The news was of no surprise, as Francona’s retirement from managing has long been expected. As noted by Zack Meisel of The Athletic, Francona will remain in the Guardians organization, though his exact role going forward has yet to be determined.
The news brings to an end a brilliant managerial career. Francona’s career as a manager first began with the Phillies, for whom he managed from 1997-2000, though Philadelphia never reached the postseason or even posted a winning record during his time at the helm. A few years later, Francona emerged as the manager of the 2004 Red Sox, the team that famously won 98 games under his leadership before going on to win the franchise’s first World Series since 1918. After breaking the Curse of the Bambino, Francona went on to manage for another seven seasons in Boston, making the post season four more times, including a second World Series championship in 2007. He finished his tenure as Boston’s manager with 744 wins, good for a .574 winning percentage.
Francona then sat out the 2012 campaign before joining Cleveland as the club’s manager in 2013. In eleven seasons as the club’s manager, he piloted the club to nine winning seasons and six playoff appearances despite the club consistently ranking toward the bottom of the league in terms of payroll. The club’s most successful stretch under Francona came from 2016 to 2020, when the club made the postseason in four of five seasons, including a 2016 run that lasted until Game 7 of the World Series, while posting a 415-292 record, good for a winning percentage of .587.
Overall, Francona wraps up his managerial career with a 1950-1672 (.538) record over 23 years as a big league manager. During his time in Cleveland, Francona won AL Manager of the Year three times: in 2013, 2016, and 2022. He also finished 2nd in 2017 while recording top-5 finished on four separate occasions in Boston. He’s one of just nine managers in the history of the award to win on three or more occasions.
As Francona told reporters (including those at ESPN) this afternoon, he’s not yet sure what role he wants to play going forward as he moves into a new role in Cleveland. “I need to go home and get healthy and see what I miss about the game,” Francona said, though he added that he doesn’t expect to manage again.
As for the Guardians, they’ll turn their attention to deciding who will be tasked with attempting to fill Francona’s shoes going forward. As noted by Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal, the club has already begun the interview process. Giants bullpen coach Craig Albernaz is among those who have been rumored as potential candidates for the position. Also reportedly under consideration was Guardians first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr, though Lewis notes that Alomar declined to interview for the role.