Dusty Baker is taking a wait-and-see attitude towards continuing to manage into the 2022 season, telling reporters (including The Associated Press) that it “Depends how I feel. Depends on how the team feels about me….You never know what changes are going to come about in life.” Hired last January in the wake of A.J. Hinch’s sudden firing, Baker guided the Astros to a wild card berth and then an unexpected run to Game Seven of the ALCS, falling just shy of the franchise’s third AL pennant in four seasons.
Baker is the first manager in baseball history to lead five different franchises to the postseason, adding yet another plaudit to a managerial career that has now stretched to 23 seasons. Last June, Houston exercised its club option on Baker for the 2021 season, though it remains unknown if an extension could be in the offing (Baker made no allusion to any negotiations during his media session). Baker also turns 72 in June, so he could potentially decide to retire after one more year in the dugout.
More from the AL West…
- Also from Baker, he told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart and other reporters that the Astros are focusing on adding pitching, with “our bullpen probably first. That’s a premium area right now, and then maybe you go to position players and you go to a starter, not necessarily in that order.” Recent reports linked the Astros to the Liam Hendriks market, which would arguably be the biggest possible addition any team could make to their bullpen this winter.
- The Rangers have been one of the offseason’s busiest teams to date, and GM Chris Young told reporters (including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson) that the club still has more items on its shopping list. The Rangers are looking to add starting pitching, catching, and third base help, with the latter position perhaps being the most interesting considering Elvis Andrus and Nick Solak are already on hand as internal candidates. Both are defensively suspect at the hot corner, however — Solak has limited career playing time at third base, and Andrus has never played anywhere other than shortstop over his 12-year career. Gold Glove winner Isiah Kiner-Falefa will be moving from third base to take over Andrus’ former spot at shortstop.
- Since the Athletics reportedly don’t have much available to spend this offseason, their chances of making any notable free agent additions or even re-signing some of their own free agents don’t seem great, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser writes as part of a reader mailbag. Signing a player like Ha-Seong Kim seems very unlikely given Kim’s expected price tag, and while the A’s have had some talks with Tommy La Stella’s camp, Slusser would “be surprised” if a reunion actually takes place since La Stella should have enough suitors to take him out of Oakland’s price range. In terms of possible returns, Yusmeiro Petit or Joakim Soria might be the likeliest candidates among the Athletics’ free agents, and Mike Fiers could also be re-signed since the A’s might want some rotation depth or perhaps a swingman.
- In other AL West news from earlier today, the Angels and Mariners each signed new relievers, while the Rangers swung a trade with the Reds.