Red Sox principal owner John Henry, in his appearance with team CEO Larry Lucchino on the Dennis & Callahan Show, acknowledged that the team was unlikely to pick up the two-year option on former manager Terry Francona's three-year contract. However, Henry also suggested that the team did not have the chance to make Francona's departure truly "mutual," intimating that two-time World Series winner took the decision out of the club's hands.
"We really didn’t get a chance to make it mutual. Thinking about it, would we have ended up in the same place he ended up? Based on the things we heard, the things we saw, it’s a strong likelihood that we would have. So you could say it was mutual," said Henry. "But the way it took place, in my mind, wasn’t mutual."
Lucchino said that a meeting between owners, GM Theo Epstein and Assistant GM Ben Cherington two days after the end of the season made clear that Francona did not think he should return.
"We went through challenge after challenge, various reasons for the breakdown. We talked to Tito about whether he was ready for this, given all the challenges he enumerated," said Lucchino. "He made clear to us that he wasn’t. What were his words. Something like, ‘You need a new voice down there. I’m not your man for next year. I think my time here is up.’ In some ways, he took that position. That is a very determinative factor when your manager feels spent and feels like there needs to be a change.
"He did a fantastic job for us over the years," Lucchino added. "He was contemplating his ninth year in this pressure cooker that is Boston. Different teams require different skill sets and different talents. I think he made a self-assessment, with which we concurred. To that extent, it was mutual and the phrase mutual does fit. It was still a sad occasion. There was no joy that day."
Lucchino said that the idea of picking up the two-year, $8.75 million option before the end of the season was never in play. When the contract was negotiated, he said, the two sides agreed that the option wouldn't be discussed until the end of the contract, and Francona never suggested to the club that he wanted to proceed differently.
"We gave him a long-term deal and we agreed that we would not talk about the options until the end of the [third] year. ... The first order of business after the season would be to talk about options," said Lucchino. "I think he understood and we understood that it wasn’t going to be something that happened during the course of the season. In fact to his credit, he never came to us early and said, ‘What do you think about my option?’ His agent never called us. There were never any discussions. ... We always anticipated that that discussion would take place, as understand, in the first 10 days, the first order of business in the offseason."
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