Owner: Astros 'in discussions' with GM on deal

by Daryn Albert - Astros owner Jim Crane tiptoed around questions regarding general manager James Click, saying he was "in discussions" with the World Series-winning general manager on a new deal.

Jim Crane: Astros 'in discussions' with GM James Click on deal 2:44 PM ET Jeff PassanESPN Close ESPN MLB insider Author of "The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports" In a news conference to welcome back Dusty Baker as manager of the Houston Astros , team owner Jim Crane tiptoed around questions regarding general manager James Click, saying he was "in discussions" with the World Series-winning general manager on a new deal. Click's lame-duck status continues to hang over the organization following the Oct. 31 expiration of his contract. Conflict within the organization on baseball-operations decision-making persisted throughout the Astros' championship run this season, sources told ESPN, and Click's reticence to accept Crane's one-year contract offer was the talk of baseball's GM meetings in Las Vegas, where Click arrived Monday after the team's parade through Houston. Baker and Click were hired in 2020 after Crane fired manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow after the revelation of the team's sign-stealing scheme during its championship-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. Editor's Picks Can they repeat? What's next for the World Series champion Astros 2d Bradford Doolittle 2 Related "James has done a good job," Crane said. "He's stepped in, made some good moves. We'll sit down and see where we're gonna end up with James." The return of Baker, whose 2,093 regular-season wins rank ninth all-time and lead active managers, was seen as a fait accompli after Houston's title. The 73-year-old, who became the oldest manager to win a championship, had said previously that when he won his first championship as a manager, he planned to chase another. Crane said he and Baker worked out the deal for him to return to the 106-win team within 15 minutes. "How many times in your life do you say something and then have the opportunity to fulfill it?" Baker said. "And that's how I feel at this moment. Wasn't just talking. I meant what I said, and I love keeping my word. So, hey, man, we got a chance to win back-to-back, and this is what I'd like to do." Baker said he has a "good relationship" with Click and that "we've accomplished some good things together in a short period of time. And so people always looking for if there's some conflict or not getting along or whatever, but that's not the case." Before the trade deadline, Baker blanched at an agreed-upon deal with the Chicago Cubs that would have landed All-Star catcher Willson Contreras for starter Jose Urquidy . Crane wound up spiking the trade. Baker said he and Click, who came to the Astros from the Tampa Bay Rays , do not always see eye to eye but have learned to work well together. "You come from two different places," Baker said. "Everybody in here comes from different places, but the secret is to learn how to coexist in the workplace and that's what makes a successful formula." The 44-year-old Click said Tuesday he was "optimistic" he would return to the Astros, whose baseball-operations department he continues to run even though he's not under contract. Generally, the top executives for World Series-winning teams return the next season with multiple years remaining on their contracts or receive long-term extensions. The last time a head of baseball operations didn't return to steward his team the next 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 work in a top role in another organization like Alex Anthopoulos, who left his position as GM of the Toronto Blue Jays following the hiring of president Mark Shapiro and spent two years as a vice president with the Los Angeles Dodgers before taking over as president of baseball operations for Atlanta. While it's unclear who would run baseball operations for Houston if Click left, the influence of Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell and Reggie Jackson on Crane grew this year, sources said. Further, David Stearns, a former Houston assistant GM under Luhnow who remains well-regarded by Crane, stepped down as the Milwaukee Brewers ' president of baseball operations in October and could rejoin the Astros after his contract expires at the end of the 2023 season. If Click does remain with the Astros, he'll do so with Baker as his manager for at least one year -- and perhaps longer. Baker left open the possibility of him continuing to manage beyond 2023. When asked about the love he feels from the city and Astros players, Baker offered an answer that applies perhaps best to Click's situation. "Love goes both ways," Baker said. "You hate to be in love and the other person don't love you."