The Astros have parted ways with general manager James Click, the team announced Friday. ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweets that Click formally rejected Houston’s one-year offer to return to the organization. Future details on the Astros’ baseball operations structure will come at an unspecified later date, per the team.
“We are grateful for all of James’ contributions,” owner Jim Crane said in a prepared statement. “We have had great success in each of his three seasons, and James has been an important part of that success. I want to personally thank him and wish him and his family well moving forward.”
It’s a bizarre and largely unprecedented dismissal, though not one that comes as a total surprise. Reports suggesting friction between Crane and Click date back more than a month now, although the general expectation was that if Houston managed to win the World Series, Click would be retained. Crane technically gave his GM that opportunity, but only in the form of a one-year extension. Extensions of just one year for a lame-duck GM are rare in the first place, and putting forth that type of offer on the heels three consecutive ALCS appearances, two straight World Series berths and, of course, a 2022 World Series victory, seems like little more than a lowball offer.
Crane hired Click on Feb. 3, 2020, just weeks after former president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were fired in the wake of the investigation into the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal. Click oversaw three seasons and three trade deadlines with the Astros in addition to a pair of full offseasons. Among his notable free-agent signings were Hector Neris, a bargain pickup of Ryne Stanek, and a new deal for Justin Verlander, though Verlander himself has spoken on record about how it was a call directly from Crane that wrapped up that agreement. Relatedly, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported recently that Crane has had a far larger role in baseball operations than most owners, functioning as a sort of “owner/GM” at times.
At least on the surface, there’s some evidence that was true not only with regard to free agent endeavors but the trade market. Crane reportedly nixed a trade agreement that would’ve sent righty Jose Urquidy to the Cubs in exchange for Willson Contreras this past summer, for instance. The Astros pivoted and acquired Christian Vazquez instead. Among the other trades of note made during Click’s tenure were acquisitions of relievers Kendall Graveman, Rafael Montero, Yimi Garcia, Phil Maton and Brooks Raley — all of which look anywhere from defensible to outstanding with the benefit of hindsight.
More to come.
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