Terry Francona is expected to be released from his position as the Boston Red Sox's manager, according to a report posted early Friday morning on FoxSports.com.
According to the report, Francona would not be fired, but the team would decline club options in his contract for next season and 2013.
It's a quick turnaround, but the once-unthinkable move has gained more steam over the past week, as the Red Sox completed their September collapse. The Red Sox blew a nine-game lead in the American League wild card race against the Tampa Bay Rays, the largest lead ever blown by a team in September that failed to make the playoffs entirely.
The logical landing sports for Francona? According to the report, it's likely somewhere in Chicago.
The White Sox are looking after trading manager Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins. Meanwhile, the lovable loser Cubs on the other side of town are expected to fire manager Mike Quade once they hire a general manager. Francona managed in the White Sox's minor league system in the early 1990s, and he played for the Cubs in 1986.
And then there are the obvious other connections, like the chance to bring another starved fan base a championship with the Cubs. Or the chance to manage another Sox (kidding about that one).
If Francona departs, he leaves a legacy unparalleled to any Red Sox manager in recent history. He came on in 2004 and immediately charmed the fan base in the easiest way possible - by leading the franchise to its first World Series victory since 1918, taking out the rival New York Yankees in the most dramatic scene along the way.
The Red Sox won another title in 2007 over the Colorado Rockies, and Francona led the team to the playoffs in five of his eight seasons as manager.
On Thursday when speaking to reporters in Boston, Francona looked the part of a manager facing questions about his future off the heels of such a giant collapse. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein came to Francona's defense, telling reporters that nobody blames what happened in September on Tito.
I know we don't believe in scapegoats, he added, particularly blaming Tito for what happened in September. We all failed collectively.
Francona didn't give any clues as to his future in the press conference, but he did acknowledge that, in the moment, this season was probably his most trying as a major-league manager.
Because it's fresh and raw, it seems that way, he said. But there have been a lot of trying moments here. We just fought through them, I think, a little bit better.
And perhaps the ship has sailed on Francona's time with the Red Sox. A source told the Chicago Sun-Times that Francona has had his fill of the whole thing.