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Antonetti begins work to strengthen rotation, 'pen

GM credits Francona with '13 success, looks to retool with Ubaldo, Kazmir on market

ORLANDO, Fla. -- There was a cast of qualified candidates jockeying for the American League Manager of the Year Award, but to Indians general manager Chris Antonetti, there was no more deserving choice than Terry Francona.

Francona received 16 first-place votes and ended with 112 overall points, edging out Red Sox manager John Farrell. Watching Francona behind the scenes as he guided the Tribe to its 92-win season, Antonetti said that Francona's value to the club cannot be understated.

"He had an enormous impact on our organization, and not just on the Major League team," Antonetti said. "We wouldn't have had the success we had this year without his leadership.

"The dynamic he creates in the clubhouse, his work ethic, his preparation -- how he leads his staff, the way they prepare for the game and the environment they create in the clubhouse, it was a big part of the success."

As Antonetti settled in at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes for a second day at the General Managers' Meetings, he embarked on his mission to retool the Indians, so Francona can make a run at an even better showing in 2014.

Antonetti said that he was not surprised by Ubaldo Jimenez's decision on Monday to reject a qualifying offer from the Indians, attached to a one-year deal valued at $14.1 million, and he said that the club is engaged in discussions to bring Jimenez back next season.

There will be competition for the hurler's services following his turnaround campaign. Jimenez was 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts and received honors as the AL's Pitcher of the Month for September, when he finished strong by going 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA.

"I think Ubaldo put himself in a position to be a very attractive free agent," Antonetti said. "He pitched extraordinarily well and had an outstanding year. I think he's established himself as one of the more attractive starting pitchers on the market."

Antonetti said that the Indians are also interested in bringing back left-hander Scott Kazmir, who was 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts last season. Antonetti said that he has spoken with Kazmir's representatives, but he declined comment when asked if he would consider a multiyear deal for the hurler.

It has been reported that Cleveland is only interested in signing Kazmir on a one-year basis. Though they have touted their in-house candidates, the Indians also are searching for outside bullpen help after parting ways with closer Chris Perez.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Tuesday that Antonetti is scheduled to speak to agent Dan Lozano about two of his clients, closers Fernando Rodney and Brian Wilson.

Additionally on the pitching front, Antonetti said that the Indians "potentially" could approach right-hander Justin Masterson with a multiyear extension offer this winter, though there is no concrete timetable for that.

Masterson was 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 32 games (29 starts) for Cleveland in 2013 and has been rumored to be interested in a deal approaching five years and $75 million.

"Each guy is different," Antonetti said. "It all depends on what their interests are, what their expectations are, how it fits into our plan and what makes sense for us economically."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

Cleveland Indians, Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Justin Masterson