The Astros have spent a large portion of January reeling from the fallout of their 2017 sign-stealing scandal – one that cost them championship-winning GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch. They’ve already replaced Hinch, having hired decorated veteran skipper Dusty Baker on Wednesday, but there’s no successor to Luhnow yet. However, the Astros continue to tack on candidates in their quest to replace him.
Houston has interviewed Royals director of pro scouting/special assistant Gene Watson and Rays vice president of baseball operations James Click for its GM role, per reports from Jeff Passan of ESPN.com and Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Watson and Click join MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, Peter Woodfork, and former Giants GM Bobby Evans as known candidates for the Astros’ vacancy.
It’s notable that Evans worked with Baker when the two were in San Francisco, but there’s no indication he or anyone else is the favorite at this point. It seems the Astros will continue to take their time in finding a new GM, as Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle explains. For now, owner Jim Crane and a four-executive team consisting of assistant GM Pete Putila, special assistant Kevin Goldstein, senior director of baseball strategy Bill Firkus and senior director of player evaluation Ehsan Bokhari are at the helm. That quartet played a part in Crane’s decision to hire Baker, per Rome, though it’s not clear whether anyone from it will emerge as a GM candidate for the club. It may not look good if the Astros do hire an in-house GM, considering that individual would have connections to the Luhnow-Hinch regime.
As for the newest outside possibilities, Watson – a Texas native – is a two-time World Series champion (2003 Marlins, 2015 Royals) with a long scouting history who has worked in Kansas City in various capacities since 2006. The Yale-educated Click caught on with the Rays the same year Watson joined the Royals. Click has since worked his way toward the top of a Rays front office that already lost another noteworthy exec earlier this offseason in Chaim Bloom, who became Boston’s chief baseball officer.