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Guardians manager Terry Francona implies he will retire following the 2023 season: 'It's time'

Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona stands in the dugout during a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, July 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona sounds like a man ready to retire. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

One of the best MLB managers in recent memory is likely hanging up his cleats. Cleveland Guardians skipper Terry Francona implied he would retire at the end of the 2023 MLB season, according to MLB Network Radio.

Francona didn't officially say, "I'm retiring," but he made his intentions pretty obvious, stating, "I've been pretty clear with the guys that I've worked for and told them to start preparing 'cause it's time."

Francona's full answer read:

"I think I've been pretty clear with people. I don't want to have the last month be a sendoff or a pity party. That's not how I feel. But it's time. My body is telling me that. My head is telling me that. And I don't want to stay on for the wrong reasons. I hope I have too much respect, for not just the game, but for this organization to do that. So I've been pretty clear with the guys I work for and told them to start preparing 'cause it's time."

That sounds pretty definitive. Once the 2023 season ends, Francona seems likely to retire. If this is it for him, it has been a heckuva run. After posting middling records with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997 to 2000, Francona was hired by the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and led the team to its first World Series title since 1918. Francona spent eight seasons in Boston, putting up a 744-522 record. He led the team to another World Series win in 2007 and left the Red Sox after the 2011 season, saying the team needed "a new voice."

After a year away, Francona was hired in Cleveland. In 11 seasons with the club, he has led the Guadians to six playoff appearances. The team reached the World Series in 2016, falling to the Chicago Cubs in seven games. Entering Tuesday, Francona has a 911-743 career record with the Guardians.

Francona's chances to lead the Guardians to a World Series title in 2023 are slim. The team sits at 66-72, 10.5 games out of the final American League wild-card spot entering play Tuesday and six games behind the Minnesota Twins for the lead in the AL Central. Barring a miraculous run, the team will likely miss the postseason.

It's unclear if Francona, 64, is finished managing for good. He could return to the dugout after some time away, like he did after he left the Red Sox. It's also possible this is it. Francona has experienced a few hospitalizations during the regular season in recent years and might feel it's time for him to relax at home.

If Francona is finished, the Hall of Fame could be next. In 23 years of managing, Francona has a .539 winning percentage. He helped the Red Sox break their World Series curse and took the team back for another championship a few years later. While he couldn't do the same with the Guardians, the team experienced plenty of success under his leadership.