Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (L) requests an umpire ruling on an infield play against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning of World Series game 7 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 2, 2016. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
The Cleveland Indians exercised contract options Friday on manager Terry Francona for the 2019 and 2020 seasons to keep him at the helm for at least another four more years.
The 57-year-old Francona just finished his fourth season with the Indians, who won the American League Central with a 94-67 record (.584), defeated the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays in the postseason to win the AL pennant before losing the World Series to the Chicago Cubs in seven games on Wednesday night. The Indians reached the World Series for the first time since 1997.
Francona was given praise for being gracious after the Indians' heartbreaking loss in Game 7.
"You know, we ask our players to play the game with respect and to leave it on the field," Francona told FOX Sports' Tom Verducci after the 8-7, 10-inning loss in the game that ended early Thursday morning. "That was it, they gave everything they had. And I kind of talked about it before the game, what an honor it was, but it really is. To go through that with this group and these people, it was an honor.
"The (Cubs are) a good team, and they keep coming at you. I mean, that was tough for them. We tied that -- lot of teams might fold, they didn't. But we didn't either. We just ran out of time. It hurts. It hurts because we care so much. But I still want our guys to carry their heads high because they deserve to do that.
"We met for a minute. I mean, they know how we feel. But I just wanted to thank them for me and the coaches, because, like I was telling you, it's an honor to go through something like this with this group, and we don't take it lightly. And we appreciate it and we care. I just thought they deserved to hear that."
In November 2014, Francona signed a two-year extension, which included the 2019 and 2020 options.
During Francona's four-year stint as Indians manager, the club has qualified for the postseason twice and finished with a winning mark in each of those seasons. He has a 352-294 (.545) record as Indians manager, the sixth-highest winning percentage in the 116-year history of the franchise.
Francona owns a 16-year career managerial mark of 1,381-1,209 (.533), the fifth-highest win total among active managers, and has led his clubs to 12 consecutive winning seasons. He won World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 with Boston.
The Indians also announced that the club picked up slugger Carlos Santana's $12 million option.
Santana, 30, is coming off his best season, hitting .259 with 89 runs, 31 doubles, three triples, 34 home runs and 87 RBIs in 158 games. His 34 homers were the most by a major league switch-hitter since 2011. Over the last 15 games of the regular season he batted .411 with seven doubles, two triples, three home runs and 13 RBIs. In the postseason, he hit .192 with three homers and four RBIs in 15 games.
Meanwhile, the Indians promoted Carter Hawkins and Matt Forman to assistant general managers.
Hawkins joined the club in 2008 and has spent the last two seasons as director of player development. He will continue to lead the player development department and will assist team president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff in all aspects of baseball operations.
Forman is in his fourth season with the Indians and was promoted to director of baseball operations prior to the 2016 campaign. He joined the club in January 2013 following a stint with Baseball America. He also will assist Antonetti and Chernoff, along with the team's scouting and player procurement processes (amateur, pro and international scouting).