Terry Francona is a candidate for the Cleveland Indians’ managerial opening, according to major-league sources.
The biggest question is whether he will want the job.
Sources say that Francona, 53, already has had preliminary contact with the Indians, the team for whom he worked as a special assistant in 2001.
The Indians fired Manny Acta on Thursday and replaced him with interim manager Sandy Alomar, Jr., who also will be a candidate for the permanent position.
Meanwhile, Francona is unlikely to get the job that friends say he coveted most if an opening occurred — the Los Angeles Angels’.
What is not known: Whether the Indians could pay Francona a large enough salary to persuade him to leave his job as an analyst for ESPN.
Francona, 53, earned an average of $4 million per season in his final deal with the Boston Red Sox.
Ideally, he might prefer to join a team that is closer to contention than the Indians. On the other hand, such an opportunity might not come available this offseason.
Angels owner Arte Moreno told MLB.com Saturday that he plans to retain manager Mike Sciosica. The Detroit Tigers still could replace Jim Leyland and the Miami Marlins could fire Ozzie Guillen. But Francona has greater ties to the Indians than either of those clubs.
In between his managing jobs with the Philadelphia Phillies and Red Sox, Francona assisted Indians club president Mark Shapiro when Shapiro was the team’s GM in ’01.
What’s more, Francona recently purchased a home in Arizona, where the Indians hold spring training. Both the Tigers and Marlins train in Florida.
The Boston Red Sox declined to exercise the option on Francona’s contract at the end of the 2011 season, leaving him without a managing job.