Astros are shifting focus to the future of Baker, the lead free agents

HOUSTON (AP) – The Houston Astros may have won their second World Championship in six years and had a steady presence in the playoffs, but there are plenty of questions the team will need to address in the off-season.

Director Dusty Baker and General Manager James Click are not yet contracted. Many of the big players are free agents. Despite all this, the odds makers still expect the Astros to be one of the favorites to win it all next season. FanDuel Sportsbook The team has the second-best odds of winning the 2023 World Championship behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

73-year-old Baker He won his first title in his twenty-fifth season as head coach of the league on Saturday night when he sent the Philadelphia Astros in six games. He’s not thinking of calling it up, even if he’s the oldest coach to ever win a title.

“I always said if I win one, I want to win two,” he said.

When pressed about his contract status and future, Baker stepped in and said things weren’t sure of his end.

“I just want to live,” he told The Associated Press, “Live and everything will be taken care of. I’m not worried about any of that.” I’m just going to have fun today and I’m sure it will be taken care of.”

Team owner Jim Crane said he’ll talk about what’s coming to Baker and Click next week.

Houston’s first came in 2017, a title tainted by a signals-stealing scandal that led to cost manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow taking their jobs, setting the stage for Baker’s return to baseball. The baseball player was the tough leader the team needed to deal with outside vitriol.

“I think that’s what drove this team,” he said. “That’s what motivated them. The boos and ridicule we receive across the country upset these guys, but it also motivated them at the same time. And it wasn’t that we were against the world. It was more of a kind closer together.”

“And what happened before, it hasn’t been completely overtaken,” he said. “But we have turned the page and hope to continue this race.”

Then there is the issue of identifying players. Justin Verlander is expected to turn down the $25 million player option for next season and become a free agent in the next few days.

Crane said he hopes the Astros can keep him after his impressive comeback from Tommy John’s surgery this season. Verlander is expected to win his third Cy Young award after leading the big companies with a 1.75 ERA and top the MLS with an 18th win after a nearly two-year absence.

The 39-year-old has not spoken about his future after Saturday’s win, but has considered his way back into the game.

“If I could just grab a pen and paper and write down exactly what I hoped would happen through rehab and my first season back from Tommy John, I don’t know if I would change something,” he said.

First base officer Yuli Goriel, who has been in Houston since 2016, is a free agent. The 38-year-old had a regular season after winning the AL batting title in 2021. He heated up in the post-season before a knee injury sent him out for Game Six of the World Series, and he said on Saturday he would like to return next season.

Left player Michael Brantley, who has missed most of the season with a shoulder injury, is also a free agent, along with companion players Aledmyz Díaz and catchers Cristian Vazquez and Jason Castro.

On the courtside, loyalist Rafael Monteiro, a key member of the Astros Bullpen that carried opponents to 0.83 ERA in the post-season, is a free agent.

While the Astros can experience many changes in the off-season, one position that appears to have been set for years is falling short. Rookie Jeremy Peña has continued a strong regular season with an outstanding performance in the playoffs that earned him The best player in both the AL Championship and the World Championship.

The 25-year-old achieved .400 at the World Championships becoming the first rookie to win the Series Player of the Year award. He ran smoothly for the two-time All-Star Championship Carlos Correa, who signed with Minnesota in the most recent season.

“You have to make tough decisions in this job, and making Jeremy look like it was an easy decision, and it wasn’t,” Klick said. “Carlos is a fantastic player, and he has been a huge part of that franchise. But to do what Jeremy did, to step in and up his game in the playoffs, it only speaks volumes about his hard work, his personality and the talent he has. There are not many special men on this planet who can He did what he just did.”

Peña is looking to build on what he has done this season.

“That’s what we expect in the organization,” he said. “We built a culture on winning, and every year we show up and try to win every game with the ball. We just try to win.”