Francona discusses contract's opt-out clause
Manager clears some speculation, says he would not use clause as leverage
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona wanted to end some of the speculation about his contract situation on Friday. With team president Mark Shapiro reportedly on the Blue Jays' radar for their pending presidential vacancy, Francona's future has been a hot topic of late.
Francona's contract includes a clause that allows the manager to opt out of his deal in the event that Shapiro or general manager Chris Antonetti are no longer a part of Cleveland's front-office structure. Francona said Friday that he would not use that clause as leverage if Shapiro were to depart the Indians for another job opportunity.
"Just to be real upfront, because I think it's [important]," Francona said prior to Friday's game against the Angels, "when I came here, I think I was pretty honest about the fact that I came here because of Mark and Chris. It was my relationship with them, that's what originally brought me here. Because of that, I guess I wanted a little -- I don't know if protection is the right word, it might be -- but just in case the organization decided to go a different way, [I asked for the opt-out clause]."
Francona said that was his only specific request when the Indians put together his contract prior to the 2013 season and later hammered out an extension for the manager that runs through at least the 2018 season. Francona's current deal also includes team options for '19 and '20.
"That's the only thing I asked in my contract," Francona said. "I think sometimes guys get like country club memberships or whatever. I wanted that [clause]. They were nice enough to kind of work with me on that. Since I've been here, my relationship with [Shapiro and Antonetti] has certainly grown, but also with the other people here, to the point where, I guess my point is, I would never use that as leverage. That was not the spirit of the way it was written, nor would I use it like that.
"I mean, if Mark's not here, there's a time I guess to talk about that, and things like that, but I think part of maybe one of the reasons Mark maybe would even think about leaving is because I think he's confident that things are in place the way we have worked so hard to do it. So I hope that answers that. The way it was meant, I would honor, and I have no intention of ever using something like that as leverage for another job, because I don't want to."
The Blue Jays will be looking for a new team president this offseason, when the organization's current president and CEO, Paul Beeston, is expected to retire. Last week, a report surfaced indicating that Shapiro is a "strong candidate" for the job. Shapiro has declined comment on the situation.