Houston Astros part ways with GM James Click

Even as the Astros entered the main part of the most successful season in franchise history, there was a soft drumming behind the scenes. That drum sound was the sound of potential discord among the power trio that’s been running things for the most successful sports franchise over the past half decade or so. Going into the back half of the 2022 season, owner Jim Crane had not yet offered contract extensions to manager Dusty Baker or general manager James Click, both of whom had contracts expiring at the end of 2022 after the season ended. Baker’s position seemed the least controversial of the two, with the implicit assumption that the manager would be asked to return. The Click was a different story, as tales of conflict and discord between the GM and owner surfaced around September, even as the Astros were in a playoff run.

Well, over the past three days, we’ve been getting answers to many questions we’ve all been asking. Baker returns for another season, and on Friday morning the Astros sent out a press release that dropped this bomb across the baseball scene — James Click will not be returning as general manager of the Astros:

Houston, Texas — Astros owner and manager Jim Crane announced today that the Houston Astros and general manager James Click will not be entering into a renewal for the 2023 season.

“We are grateful for all of James’ contributions,” Crane said. “We’ve had great success in each of his three seasons, and James has been an important part of that success. I want to thank him personally and wish him and his family the best moving forward.”

Further announcements regarding the structure of the Baseball Operations Division will come at a later date.

There are a number of aspects of the Astros organization that one could cite as sources of contention between the now former owner and general manager. Click expanded the team’s scouting operation, which Crane reportedly reluctantly agreed to. Click trades on deadline accomplished (Trey Mancini, most important) lacked sway on the field. Reportedly, Crane objected to a deal in which Click arranged to trade pitcher Jose Urquidi to the Cubs for catcher Wilson Contreras, which he declined at Baker’s request.

In short, Click has been walking around with his owner for quite some time, so this is less than ideal, if you’re a Click fan. In the end, though, according to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightingale, it was Click’s public handling of his uncertain contract status that did in:

It’s rare for a team to perform at the Astros’ historically high levels to make the transition from their general manager, but the fact of the matter is that 20 of the 26 players on their playoff roster were either drafted, developed, and signed by and/or traded by a GM not named James Click. “. The vast majority of those 20 players were brought in by former general manager Jeff Lono, who was fired in January 2020 in the wake of the banner-stealing scandal.

So now attention is turning to the future. Free agency has begun, but the truth is, Crane can handle any necessary GM work for the Astros over the next few weeks, while they find their next general manager. The main item on the agenda is bringing back Justin Verlander, and Crane was going to negotiate that deal anyway, even if Click was still the GM.

One thing is for sure – it’s never a dull time with the Houston Astros!

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