Manager Dusty Baker will be returning for the 2022 season, while the Astros’ front office highlights their agenda for the offseason.
On Friday, the Houston Astros held a press conference to officially announce manager Dusty Baker’s return for the 2022 season. The 72-year-old was joined by general manager James Click and owner Jim Crane, as media members picked their brains for offseason plans.
Baker returns for his third season with the Astros, after falling two games short of his first World Series title as a manager in 2021 and one game short of the World Series in 2020.
“I didn’t retire,” Baker said to a reporter about coming out of retirement to manage the Astros in 2020. “I didn’t have a job.”
With seven players electing free agency on Oct. 3, the Astros adjusted their roster by activating six players from the minor-leagues: Brandon Bielak, Josh James, Jake Meyers, Peter Solomon, Seth Martinez and Lance McCullers Jr.
Over the next few weeks, the 40-man roster will take a shuffle with their being no true injured list over the offseason. The reason only six players were activated to seven electing free agency was because of Justin Verlander being on the 60-day injured list and not affecting the roster.
With Justin Verlander being a free agent, will the Astros extend a qualifying offer?
In the Friday press conference, owner Jim Crane joked about Verlander’s golf game but didn’t provide any update on whether or not the Astros will extend a qualifying offer. Crane touched on Verlander’s competitiveness and said, “I wouldn’t count him out.”
The qualifying offer is worth $18.4 million this season, while the deadline to extend the offer is Sunday, Nov. 7.
Lance McCullers Jr. and Jake Meyers will be evaluated in the coming weeks.
While both sustaining season-ending injuries in the American league Division Series, Lance McCullers Jr. and Jake Meyers will both be evaluated in the coming weeks. General manager James Click touched on McCullers taking a few weeks off before being evaluated to throw again, which is their same protocol for regular season situations.
James Click praised minor-league talent for the future of the Astros.
With the shortstop position up in the air, Click said minor-league infielder Jeremy Pena could be ready for next season, if the 24-year-old thinks he is. Pena found a new stroke of power in 30 Triple-A games, after returning from a wrist injury.
Click also touched on Korey Lee and Pedro Leon playing in the Arizona Fall League, as Leon had a 4-for-4 night on Friday after hitting his first home run the night before. While Leon breaks out of a fall slump, Click also believes in Forrest Whitley, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Hunter Brown will be pitching options in the near future.
Manager Dusty Baker hopes to keep everyone on the coaching staff with Brent Strom departing.
With pitching coach Brent Strom not returning, Baker hopes to keep the rest of his staff in tact. Click mentioned in the press conference that third base coach Gary Pettis will be calling him soon to talk about returning for the ’22 season, while Pettis’ health comes above all else to Click.
Strom offered the two current pitching coaches on staff as replacements for himself, while Baker also hinted to the idea. Baker thinks current bullpen coach Josh Miller is ready to take the next step as the pitching coach and current pitching assistant Bill Murphy would move to the bullpen.