"We really enjoyed our visit with Terry," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti wrote in an e-mail to MLB.com on Friday night. "We covered a wide array of topics and emerged from our conversations with a more in-depth understanding of his thoughts on managing and leadership."
The specifics of Francona's contract were not immediately available, but the sides were reportedly in talks about a four-year pact.
The Indians, who are coming off a 68-94 season, were also considering Sandy Alomar Jr. for the managerial role. Alomar was named the Tribe's interim manager after Manny Acta was relieved of his duties on Sept. 27, and the former All-Star catcher interviewed for the full-time job on Thursday.
Alomar has worked as a coach for the Indians for the past three seasons and boasts a successful 20-year playing career, but he has no previous managing experience beyond his six-game audition following Acta's dismissal. Cleveland went 3-3 in Alomar's brief stint at the helm.
When reached by MLB.com on Saturday, Alomar declined comment out of respect for Francona.
"This is not about me," Alomar said.
Alomar has been offered a place on Francona's coaching staff -- possibly as his bench coach -- but it remains to be seen if he will accept the role or look for a job elsewhere.
On the evening that the Indians let Acta go, Antonetti called Francona to gauge his interest.
Francona, 53, has managing experience with both the Phillies (1997-2000) and Red Sox ('04-11), and has a .529 (1,029-915) career winning percentage as a big league skipper. Francona led the Red Sox to World Series titles in '04 and '07, but was dismissed as Boston's manager at the end of last season after a dramatic collapse from contention.
Over the past year, Francona has worked as an analyst for ESPN. During a broadcast of "Sportscenter" on Saturday night, Francona indicated that the Indians' managerial job was the only one he would consider taking this offseason. If Cleveland went in a different direction, Francona planned on staying with the television network.
"It was actually going to be Cleveland or come back here and work," Francona said.
Asked for his reasoning, Francona pointed to his relationship with Indians president Mark Shapiro and Antonetti.
Francona worked in the Indians' front office in 2001, suited up for the Tribe in 1988 and has maintained a friendship with both Shapiro and Antonetti over the past decade. Francona's father, Tito, also played for Cleveland from 1959-64, adding to the job's appeal.
"Relationships," Francona said. "When I got let go by the Phillies in 2000, I went and worked for Mark Shapiro as a special assistant with the Indians and, through him, got to know Chris Antonetti and have been pretty close friends with them now for the last 10 years."
The Indians head into this offseason with a modest payroll, a relatively young roster and a farm system lacking impact prospects at the upper levels. Given the season that just took place, Francona appears to be tackling a project that could take a few years to solve.
Francona said on Saturday night that he was looking forward getting started.
"I'm actually excited," Francona said on ESPN. "I think people that maybe didn't know me maybe thought I was looking for something different. I'm looking to maybe get back to coaching and being with people on the field and trying to impact young players. I'm really excited."
During his interview with the organization on Friday, Francona had meetings throughout the day with ownership, members of the front office and various personnel from the club's player development and scouting departments. He walked away feeling good about the way things went.
"I thought that [the meetings] went great," Francona said during an audio interview that was made available to reporters following his day in Cleveland. "We exchanged a lot of ideas and it was really genuinely fun."
Francona also continued to express enthusiasm about working in Cleveland again.
"It's a good story. It's almost a family feeling," Francona said. "I don't think you can take a job because of that, but it still means a lot to me. Because of Chris and Mark and my relationship [with them], I am excited to try to tackle, or attempt to tackle, every challenge that comes our way and do it together."