The Astros announced on Monday that they’ve promoted Jeff Luhnow from general manager to president of baseball operations and signed him to a five-year contract extension that runs through the 2023 season.
The exact length of Luhnow’s prior contract with the Astros was unclear, though owner Jim Crane plainly stated at today’s press conference that Luhnow is now under contract through the 2023 season. Financial details, of course, were not disclosed, although recent extensions signed by some of the game’s more highly regarded executives reportedly came with annual salaries ranging from a bit north of $5MM (Yankees GM Brian Cashman) to nearly $10MM (Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein).
Luhnow was a polarizing figure early in his tenure with the Astros, as many raised an eyebrow and criticized from afar as he emphasized the usage of data, analytics and sabermetrics perhaps more than any executive in the game’s history. The Astros received flak not only for their heavy reliance on statistical data (often at the expense of traditional scouting) but also their aggressive utilization of defensive shifts and other, more experimental player development tactics such as tandem/piggyback starters in the minor leagues.
In the end, it’s hard to question much that the Astros have done during Luhnow’s tenure, though. The Astros are the reigning World Series Champions and have recently snapped off 11 consecutive wins to propel themselves to first place in the American League West. Their .658 winning percentage on the season trails only the Yankees and Red Sox, but the Astros will have ample opportunity to change that; they’ll play their next 19 games against teams with losing records.
Luhnow’s tenure with the Astros began with some aggressive tanking that saw the team earn the No. 1 selection in three consecutive drafts, though if there’s a notable blemish on his track record, it’s probably that two of those three instances paid little dividends. The Astros couldn’t have done any better in the 2012 draft when they surprised onlookers by selecting high school shortstop Carlos Correa over Stanford ace Mark Appel with the No. 1 pick. But Houston took Appel with the No. 1 overall pick a year later after he didn’t sign, and the team’s selection of Brady Aiken a year later led to a controversial scenario in which neither Aiken nor over-slot fifth-rounder Jacob Nix signed with the organization.
Of course, the failure to sign Aiken afforded the Astros with the No. 2 pick a year later, which the team used to draft current third baseman Alex Bregman. Bregman was added to a core of homegrown players that also featured Correa, George Springer, Jose Altuve, Lance McCullers and Dallas Keuchel. Luhnow and his lieutenants have also have plenty of successes both on the trade market (e.g. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Brad Peacock). They’ve prioritized now-popular but once-obscure elements like spin rate when adding names like Collin McHugh (via waivers) and Charlie Morton (free agency), and they struck gold with another waiver claim in Will Harris.
Exactly how long Houston will retain this core group remains uncertain, of course. Altuve recently signed a massive five-year extension, but key players like Springer and Correa have yet to sign extensions. That pair is nonetheless controllable through the 2021 season, though the rotation figures to take a very different look in the coming years, as Keuchel (this winter), Morton (this winter), Cole (post-2019) and Verlander (post-2019) are all approaching free agency.
That said, there’s clearly little doubt among ownership that Luhnow and his staff are capable of absorbing whatever losses they’ll inevitably incur and replacing that group with a promising wave of new young talent and free-agent/trade acquisitions. One of the most impressive things about this regime, after all, is that for all of the success they’ve had in recent seasons, the Astros still have a strong farm system. Right-hander Forrest Whitley and outfielder Kyle Tucker lead the way, and both are considered to be among the game’s top 20 prospects. With several impressive prospects rising through the ranks, plenty of financial firepower at their disposal and an enviable core of controllable assets at the MLB level, Luhnow’s Astros have dynasty potential despite the increasingly competitive nature of the American League West.
Best GM in baseball
It helps to have the #1 overall pick what? 3 times in a row?
You are wrong
And totally miss on 1-1 not once but twice
although to be fair, one of those 1-1 turned into a 1-2, which turned into bregman
If you think Luhnow is good because of a couple number 1 picks you haven’t been paying any attention
Did it? Only Correa was useful. But yeah they did up some solid top 10 1st rounders like Bregman, Tucker, and Correa (11th pick).
I would actually put Mozeliak and Cashman ahead of them. consistent winners without the 5-6 years of top 10 draft picks that Luhnow had
Luhnow had 4 years of top draft picks 2012-15. But your point still stands.
Mozeliak is one of the worst gm’s in baseball in my opinion. I think a lot of those early results had more to do with Luhnow. Wasn’t the ’06 team Walt Jockitty? And drafting? Drafting who? Flaherty yes, but who else?
Mozeliak over Luhnow? LOL. Look at how many bad signings Mo has already made compared to Luhnow. Fowler, Leake, Cecil, Holland this list goes on and on…. what a terrible take
i 75% agree yes some of mo’s recent transactions (the current gm of the cards is a puppet mo pulls the strings) for the most part mo has been a good gm. now with that being said i’d much rather have luhnow as our gm/pres he seems to have that right mix of saber and old skool thinking imo is what a gm needs a good mix of new/old skool thinking
There’s no real mix there… Luhnow is almost pure metrics and no traditional scouting
Cashman has an unlimited payroll. So him and Theo are pretty much dismissed from this conversation… Astros have top prospects still in the system and a WS caliber 2018 team. Plus, they are defending champs.
unlimited payroll doesn’t mean success cashmen is in a extremely tough market he can’t do a full rebuild and at the same time be a division winner so picking “dead last” and not trying to take on big contracts to win now is almost impossible so let’s give him some cred (same with theo) unlimited payroll doesn’t mean ws rings just look at stl, kc, and sf (i can’t think of any others atm)
Dodgers have had an unlimited payroll for the past several years and look at them. No WS ring since the 80’s.
Cashman is better than he gets credit for based on the puns you can make about his name and the team’s finances. But the puns aren’t wrong either. When your team wants to get under the luxury tax for ten minutes so they can blow past it with wanton disregard again for a while it’s hard to ascribe all of the team’s success to brilliance on the part of the FO.
President title nice 🙂
WIth Jeff Luhnow’s promotion, he now has a higher title than Brian Cashman, who’s Senior VP, and General Manager of New York Yankees.
Is Dan Duquette’s title lowest on the totem pole? He’s Executive VP, Baseball Operations, but I know Orioles’ owner is stingy with handing out GM title
I don’t know if the titles really matter but Cashman definitely deserves being president. Randy Levine is a joke
100 percent unequivocally agree.
Remember reading If it was up to Randy Levine, NYY would not have traded Chapman for Gleyber Torres, and Cashman had to fight hard to convince his bosses’ to green-light the subsequent trades in 2016.
At that point in time, re-signing Chapman was not guaranteed. But they did it anyway, which I give Cashman much credit for.
Takes a total genius to have his team tank for multiple years in a row to get the top draft picks.
Obviously it does since nobody built any super teams until lately like Houston and Chicago.
top draft picks in which only Correa and Bregman panned out for Luhnow. The rest were before his tenure. But no worries bro. Your genius JD in Arlington will be tanking for years and maybe they’ll be relevant again in 5 years.
Well, it worked, didn’t it?
Why do simpletons still get upset over teams tanking? There narrative has changed since the cubs and Astros have won though. It used to be tanking won’t work in baseball! Now they try the macho approach saying one team is better than another because they didn’t have to rebuild. I say this as someone who has suggested a draft lottery as a incentive not to tank. It’s a bad look when you have more than 5 teams tanking at the same time. And no a salary floor isn’t the answer as that will NOT stop tanking despite what the simpletons think. See any other league with a salary floor if you’re using that argument.
You do sound like a mad man. I would be too if I was a Rangers fan.
No, that’s Cashman. Intentionally running your team into the ground for several years and bottoming out the payroll to help tank dosen’t make you the best GM. Saying that is like saying the Philadelphia 76ers front office is the best in the NBA. Anyone but the incompetent Cleveland Browns can succeed eventually if they tank long enough.
Theo Epstein is better. As is jed Hoyer
Flash in the pan
Someone is salty lol
He’s just mad that he lost the Silver boot and June’s not even over. Enjoy paying Odor to bat .216.
So easy to spot the Rangers fans. Ha.
Enjoy Odor batting .200 for the next 3 years! Enjoy saying bye to Hamels and Beltre. Enjoy last place and a bottom 10 farm system. Lolz @ Rangers and rangers fans…. for the 50 years of your existence you have been irrelevant. At least acknowledge it. You’ve had two 4 year runs (late 90s and early 2010s) and been nothing but garbage outside of those years.
Changed baseball. Led the Sabermetrics forefront. Don’t think it’s a coincidence they lead the league in shifts.
Don’t think it’s a coincidence to field where the batter is going to hit the ball.
They certainly didn’t invent sabermetrics but they turned it from something that small market teams did to try to compete without loads of money, into a nearly unprecedented revolution in terms of how rosters are constructed in both the near term and the long term. Think back to when they were basically all about watching Carlos Lee grow old and they were almost Marlins-level laughing stock. Oh how times have changed.
That Kennedy smile!
He’s not bad, but definitely overrated.
The team is great, but like everyone already said- with that many high picks, you’re bound to hit on a few of them.
Also trade record is good, but a lot of misses. Gave up Lowrie for nothing, gave up a ton for Gomez and traded Teoscar Hernandez for Francisco Liriano. The juries still out on the recent trades, based on prospect development.
Like I said, he’s had a lot of success, but my reception of him is mixed.
These who is the best GM debates are a total waste of time. Even if there was a salary cap and there shouldn’t be if you actually like baseball but if there was a salary cap it would still be a pointless exercise.
Too many variables and unknowns like owner inference signing chris davis’s Or Josh Hamilton’s of the world not the GM.
Astros have traded Lowrie twice. One of which netted Max Stassi, arguably their most productive catcher this season, and Brad Peacock who’s been great in the bullpen. In his entire tenure as GM, Luhnow has made a good trade for every bad trade. In the end, you’re rated based on team’s overall performance and he’s built a championship team while sill maintaining a very healthy farm system. I’m not really sure where in there is “overrated”.
No. He’s not overrated. He traded for Verlander and without Verlander (which any contender could have traded for) the Astros don’t win the WS. The three top picks are Correa, Bregman and Appel. One is out of baseball. Obviously Bregman and Correa are stars. No mention of Yuli, Morton or McHugh signings. Drafting Whitley or Tucker. Every minor league team over .500. Traded for Cole. Signed Altuve to an extension. Could go on. This is a very good team. Probably the best organization in baseball from bottom to top after 6 years on the job. Well deserved extension.
The Teoscar trade is misleading and I don’t fault him for that one. They had a full 40 man roster so were gonna lose someone for nothing and had too many outfielders…. Needed a lefty and took a chance on Liriano. Great move? No, but its not as bad as it seems at first glance. The Gomez trade was bad. But find me one GM that has never made a bad move. They don’t exist
It’s the right call. Funny I was looking at his draft record and wondered how many other GMs could afford missing on 2 of 3 no. 1 overall picks and still win a title. If you wanted to, you could spin McCullers (2012 draft) into the pitcher they thought Appel was going to be and Bergman being more valuable than Aiken. But that’s just spin talk as you misused the asset. Oh well. Good on him.
If any of you Astros fans were old posters on the now-defunct MLB forums, send me an email at Astrosrefugees at gmail dot com. Most of the active posters from the old Astros forums have gathered at a new forum, and we’d like to round up any strays we missed.
where is the new forum? used to get on back in the day under Strosfosho