7:36pm: Click received a multi-year commitment from the Astros, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link).
6:14pm: The Astros have decided upon James Click as their new general manager, per a club announcement. Click had served as Rays vice president of baseball operations.
Having already installed Dusty Baker as its new manager, the scandal-ridden Houston organization has now replaced its prior leadership team. Manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were suspended and fired for lack of oversight in the sign-stealing episode that clouded the team. Owner Jim Crane, who sat atop of those two in the organizational hierarchy but escaped censure or discipline, led a fast-moving hiring search.
Meanwhile, it’s another major departure for the Rays, who had touted a three-person baseball operations leadership team that included Erik Neander, Chaim Bloom, and Click. While Neander still commands the GM seat in Tampa Bay, he’ll now be doing battle rather than collaborating with Bloom (now the Red Sox chief baseball officer) and Click in the American League.
Click, a Yale grad, had been with the Rays since 2006. He entered the organization as a baseball ops coordinator, then touched most all the bases on his way up the food chain.
The team’s account of his most recent position reads as follows: “he is involved in all aspects of the baseball operations department with a focus on baseball research and development, baseball systems, clubhouse operations and departmental logistics.” Click had been tasked with an expanded role following the departure of Bloom. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand spoke with Click last year on his podcast, if you’re interested in learning more.
Click seems sure to fit right into the Astros’ analytically oriented system after 14 years with the Rays. Crane explained that the organization “zeroed in” on Click after several interviews, noting that “he comes from a team that does a lot of things like we do.” Click simply “knew exactly what we were doing,” says Crane, and “felt he could add another dimension to it.” (Via Mark Berman of FOX 26; Twitter links.)
At the same time, Click will presumably be tasked with instilling discipline and establishing ethical guidelines for a baseball operations outfit that actively participated in the sign-stealing scheme. Commissioner Rob Manfred determined that, while Luhnow had not directed or specifically engaged in the malfeasance, he had created an “insular culture – one that valued and rewarded results over other considerations, combined with a staff of individuals who often lacked direction or sufficient oversight.” Though Crane disputed the findings of Manfred in that regard, and we can’t know how he’ll direct his new baseball operations leader, we may at least hope that Click will make a positive impact on the Houston baseball ops group.
There’ll obviously be a longer-term process for Click as he takes the helm in Houston. But he also faces an immediate challenge of preparing for Spring Training in just two weeks’ time. The Astros roster is loaded with talent and largely complete, depending upon one’s perspective (and Crane’s willingness to spend). But Click will no doubt have his own preferences on the margins, if not even some relatively larger thoughts on preparing for a season in which the Astros will again be among the favorites in the American League even in spite of their self-inflicted wounds.