Francona’s deal puts him in top echelon

Terry Francona’s new three-year contract extension with the Red Sox will average $4 million a year, it was learned this afternoon, which places him among the top two or three highest-paid managers in the game. Francona’s salary this season will remain $1.750 million, before more than doubling in 2009.

The option years call for a salary of $4.25 million in 2012 and $4.50 million in 2013, and both option years must be exercised after the ’11 season. There is no buyout involved.

Francona’s contract places him just below Joe Torre, who last winter signed a three-year, $13 million deal with the Dodgers, and in the same salary range as Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella and Tony La Russa, all considered among the best managers in the game.

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