Click: Talks with Astros ongoing, no new deal yet

Owner: Astros ‘in talks’ with GM over deal

At a press conference to welcome back Dusty Baker as Houston Astros manager, team owner Jim Crane tiptoed to answer questions about general manager James Click, saying that he was “in discussions” with the World Series-winning general manager over a new contract.

Click’s lame duck status continues to plague the organization after his contract expired on October 31. Conflict within the organization over baseball operations decision-making has persisted throughout the Astros’ championship this season, sources told ESPN, and Click’s reluctance to accept the contract offer of a year of Crane was discussed at baseball’s general manager meetings in Las Vegas, where Click arrived on Monday. after the team’s parade through Houston.

Baker and Click were hired in 2020 after Crane fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow after the team’s sign-stealing plan came to light during its title-winning 2017 season. The Astros reached the American League Championship Series in 2020 and lost in the World Series in 2021 before beating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games to win the title this season.

“James did a good job,” Crane said. “He stepped in, made some good moves. We’ll sit down and see where we end up with James.”

The return of Baker, whose 2,093 regular-season wins rank ninth all-time and are the top active managers, was considered a done deal after Houston’s title. The 73-year-old, who became the oldest manager to win a championship, previously said that when he won his first championship as a manager he planned to chase another one. Crane said he and Baker had reached an agreement for him to return to the 106-in-15-minute team.

“How many times in your life do you say something and then have the opportunity to accomplish it?” said Baker. “And that’s how I feel right now. I wasn’t just talking. I meant what I said, and I love to keep my word. So, hey, man, we had a chance to win back-to-back , and that’s what I’d like to do.”

Baker said he had a “good relationship” with Click and that “we’ve accomplished some great things together in a short time. Case.”

Before the trade deadline, Baker shut out an agreed-upon deal with the Chicago Cubs that would have landed All-Star receiver Willson Contreras for starter Jose Urquidy. Crane ended up driving the trade up. Baker said he and Click, who came to the Astros from the Tampa Bay Rays, don’t always agree, but have learned to work well together.

“You come from two different places,” Baker said. “Everyone here comes from different places, but the secret is learning to coexist in the workplace and that’s what makes a formula successful.”

Click, 44, said Tuesday he was “optimistic” about returning to the Astros, whose baseball operations department he continues to run despite not being under contract. Typically, senior executives from World Series winning teams return the following season with several years remaining on their contracts or receive long-term extensions. The last time a baseball operations manager did not return to lead his team the following season was 75 years ago when New York Yankees general manager Larry MacPhail resigned.

Click could leave the Astros and sit out the 2023 season or take a top role in another organization like Alex Anthopoulos, who left as general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays after the hiring of president Mark Shapiro and spent two years as Vice President. with the Los Angeles Dodgers before becoming president of baseball operations for Atlanta.

While it’s unclear who would run baseball operations for Houston if Click leaves, Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell and Reggie Jackson’s influence over Crane has grown this year, sources said. Additionally, David Stearns, a former Houston assistant general manager under Luhnow who remains well regarded by Crane, resigned as president of baseball operations for the Milwaukee Brewers in October and could join the Astros after his contract expires at the end of the 2023 season.

If Click stays with the Astros, he’ll do so with Baker as manager for at least a year — and possibly longer. Baker left open the possibility that he would continue to manage beyond 2023. Asked about the love he feels for the city and the Astros players, Baker offered an answer that perhaps applies better to Click’s situation.

“Love goes both ways,” Baker said. “You hate being in love and the other person doesn’t love you.”

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