Francona, 53, spent 10 years in the majors as a player, including a stint with the Indians in 1988. He made his managerial debut with the Phillies, whom he was with from 1997-2000, but is best known for his work in Boston from 2004-11, where he won two World Series before being fired after the Red Sox’ September collapse last year.
Francona was known to be one of the two major candidates the Indians were considering, the other being bench coach and previous interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. Francona, who until a few days ago was thought to be out of the Tribe’s price range, has a strong relationship with team President Mark Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti, and had said that Cleveland’s was the only managerial position he would consider this winter.
It’s not yet clear what impact Francona will have on the Indians clubhouse—he certainly isn’t as familiar with the team as Alomar, and though he may have been a scapegoat in Boston last year he’s strongly associated with the Red Sox’ 2011 collapse. However, he brings a tremendous amount of gravitas and experience to the team, plus he has a very good relationship with the front office. Gut reaction: Nice pick for the Tribe.