LAS VEGAS — World Series-winning general manager James Click said Tuesday he is in talks with the Houston Astros on a new contract but has not yet reached an agreement with the organization, leaving the champion baseball architect in limbo at the start of the offseason. .
Click’s contract expired on October 31, during the World Series in which the Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. He refuted a USA Today report that said he had agreed to a one-year contract, telling reporters: “We’re having discussions right now. I think any time you have discussions, that means this It’s not complete.”
Click said he discussed a potential contract with Astros owner Jim Crane on Monday in the hours between the team’s championship parade and his flight here for the annual general managers’ meetings. The Astros called a press conference Wednesday afternoon, which Click said he found out “recently” after the team announced, at which they are expected to announce a contract extension for manager Dusty Baker. When asked if Click planned to be part of the press conference, he replied, “I plan to be here trying to put together the team for next year.”
Click, 44, joined the Astros after firing general manager Jeff Luhnow in 2020 following revelations that their 2017 championship team engaged in a sign-stealing scheme. In his first job at GM, Click inherited a talented team faltering in the wake of the scandal and helped stabilize the Astros, who declined to comment through a spokesperson when they were contacted by ESPN.
Philosophical differences between him and Crane left several Astros front office workers worried about whether Click would return, sources told ESPN. Despite a World Series appearance in 2021, Click entered this season as a lame duck. Crane increasingly relied on advisers Jeff Bagwell and Reggie Jackson, both Hall of Fame players, sources said. At this year’s trade deadline, ESPN reported earlier this week, Crane initiated an agreed trade that would have landed Astros receiver Willson Contreras from the Chicago Cubs for right-handed starter Jose Urquidy.
“We’re different,” Click said. “Jim is – well, listen, let me clarify. There are some things that we do very differently. There are some things that we are very aligned on and that will be true for any relationship between a boss and an employee. I think he likes to move very quickly. In some cases I tend towards a more deliberate approach. He is very demanding, but he also gives you the means to accomplish what he asks you to do.
Click said he didn’t feel like Wednesday’s press conference would serve as his deadline to negotiate a new contract. His old contract, he said, converted to employment-at-will status, allowing him to leave Astros work for another team. Click said he’d rather the situation didn’t turn into that.
“I’m optimistic,” he said. “My family is very happy in Houston. We’ve settled in. I really love the city. The diversity is amazing. I honestly thought during the parade, one of the standout things for me was just the crowd, and it just shows what a global city Houston is and the culture it has. It was in the spotlight. The support the city has, I’ve never been a part of anything like this. It was addicting “And my wife and I are really, really happy that our kids are happy. We feel very settled. I really hope to be back.”
It’s rare that World Series winning general managers don’t come back after their victories. And even more rarely do they leave of their own accord. Former Astros assistant general manager David Stearns left his position as president of baseball operations with the Milwaukee Brewers in late October, and while he remains under contract with the team, he is an exception. Perhaps Click’s closest analog, if he can’t reach a deal, would be Alex Anthopoulos, the longtime Toronto Blue Jays general manager who left the organization after hiring Mark Shapiro as team president.
“The opportunity to work with the people in the Astros organization,” Click said, “the opportunity to be part of this culture in this clubhouse to be around the players, the caliber of players that we have, is almost impossible to find . . . In any job, there will be things that go right and there will be things that go wrong. You just have to take everything into account.”
Click declined to say what he was looking for in a contract, whether it’s more years or more autonomy over baseball operations decisions. Running a team with Crane’s involvement is a different experience from his only other job in baseball, with the Tampa Bay Rays, whose owner, Stu Sternberg, is much more passive.
“I only have one other owner to compare him to,” said Click, “and it’s a little different from this guy.”
The uncertainty didn’t seem to deter Click, who joined his contemporaries at a media briefing at Resorts World Las Vegas, where GM meetings are held before free agency begins in earnest on Thursday. Until then, free agents are only allowed to re-sign with their current teams.
The Astros will have their hands full this winter, with ace Justin Verlander, first baseman Yuli Gurriel and outfielder Michael Brantley among their free agents. Although the Astros would welcome Verlander back, Click said, the soon-to-be 40-year-old, who is expected to win the American League’s Cy Young Award, will be coveted among competing teams.
Whether Click is there to even sue Verlander remains unclear. But after Saturday’s championship and the celebrations that followed, Click came to Las Vegas with a plan regardless of his professional status. “I’m on a hot streak,” he said. “Guess I’m going to hit the tables.”
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