Four questions facing the Astros after Houston won their second World Series title in franchise history

The Houston Astros He won the 2022 World Championship on Saturday night, by dropping Philadelphia Phyllis In six games. The Astros win secured their second championship in the past six years, a stretch that included four Major League flags and six consecutive trips to the NBA series.

While the Astros can (and should) take a little vacation to celebrate and chart a show trail, the reality of professional sports is that the clock is always ticking. Soon, the Astros will be back in action, figuring out how to improve their roster in time for the start of another regular season.

With that in mind, here at CBS Sports we wanted to highlight four key questions the Astros will face this season, starting with the fate of the confident and smart Justin Verlander, and extending to their chances of winning another ring.

Let’s go to it.

1. Will brain confidence return?

Owner Jim Crane hired general manager James Click and manager Dusty Baker in early 2020 after their predecessors, Jeff Luno and AJ Hench, were fired for their involvement in the team’s signal-stealing scandal. Both the Click and Baker contracts are now set to expire.

It seems a fait accompli that they each get lucrative stretches — the Astros just won the World Championship, after all, as well as their second straight pennant — but the rumor mill has shown no shortage of recent speculation that Click could be ousted due to philosophical differences with Crane. more involved. By comparison, Baker’s return seems more certain, assuming he wants to continue. Nobody can blame Baker if he retires after he decides His legacy was complete.

Even if Click returns, the Astros front desk will look different looking forward. Houston lost a pair of already prestigious AGMs this winter to other teams: Pete Boutella left to become San Francisco Giants General Manager, while Oz Ocampo joined Miami Marlins As assistant general manager.

2. What about Verlander?

In the most recent season, the Astros signed Justin Verlander to a one-year deal with a conditional player option for the 2023 season. He met the terms of that option when he cleared the 130-round mark, meaning he could either return for $25 million or he could withdraw and seek a more lucrative deal. in the open market.

Our guess is that Verlander will indeed pull out. When he put pen to paper last winter, he was doing so from a position of relative weakness. He has only played one game since the end of the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John’s surgery in late 2020. After losing two primary seasons, it was not clear if or how he would return.

Now, Verlander has answered those questions in a stunning fashion, posting a 1.75 ERA in 28 starts en route to what could be his third AL Cy Young win of his career. It’s no exaggeration to think he could pursue a similar, if not two-year, contract on average, signed by Max Scherzer in his latest off-season worth nearly $87 million.

Of course, Verlander’s desire to secure a larger bag does not inherently mean that he will leave the Astros. It just means that they will have to dowry to keep their stocks in the city.

3. Is it time for more extensions?

Far from Verlander, the Astros don’t have many notable free agents to worry about. The deadline acquisitions of Trey Mancini and Christian Vázquez will hit the open market, and they could be joined by starter Martín Maldonado, Rafael Montero, Ryne Stanek and Phil Matton. The Astros will presumably reject their club’s option on Will Smith, and possibly Hector Neris as well, leading them to accumulate most of the new Bullpen on the fly in this off-season.

Unlike that? Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Jordan Alvarez, and Lance McCullers Jr. are tied up through at least the 2024 season, making this winter the perfect time for the front office to examine the cost of expanding some of their other young talents.

Lefty Framber Valdez, defensive back Kyle Tucker and right Christian Javier all have more than three years of service in the big league. From a layman’s perspective, all of them are expected to be eligible for free agency at the conclusion of the 2025 campaign. Will the Astros try to sign one of the three to a contract that buys some additional seasons, plus some confirmed costs for the duration of their eligibility to arbitrate?

Elsewhere, the Astros could swing into a long-term deal with World Series MVP Jeremy Peña, who has amassed nearly five Wins Above Replacement in his rookie season. Peña celebrated his 25th birthday in September, and he won’t even be eligible to referee until after the 2024 season, at which point he will be 27. in this time.

4. Can they be returned?

Major League Baseball hasn’t had a repeat World Series champion for over two decades, or since New York Yankees He won three consecutive titles from 1998-2000. Constant expansion in the playoffs and the unpredictability of post-season baseball means there are odds against the Astros lifting the cup again next fall. However, it is logical that some Team V some Point will win consecutive titles.

For their part, the Astros look well positioned to win again in the MLS Western League, depending on what Seattle Mariners And the Texas Rangers I do this winter. After that, who can say what might happen? The entire holiday season awaits between now and the start of another spring. For now, though, it seems fair to expect the Astros to be among the favorites to win the world championship at the start of 2023.