Fresh off his the first World Series title of his illustrious managerial career, Dusty Baker confirmed to Mark Berman of Houston’s FOX 26 that he’ll return to the team in 2023 (twitter link). A deal has not yet been finalized, but Baker tells Berman: “I’ll be back, but we’re working on it. It’s as simple as that.”
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported shortly before Baker’s quote that Astros owner Jim Crane has already spoken to both Baker and general manager James Click about their futures and is planning to formally extend them contract offers for the 2023 season.
Named Houston’s manager in the immediate aftermath of punishments being meted out from the team’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal, Baker took the reins in a tumultuous situation and has seamlessly overseen not only a stabilizing period for the franchise but a continuous run of success. He’s now been at the helm of the Astros for the past three seasons, compiling a 230-154 record in that time, winning a pair of American League pennants and, just this weekend, adding another World Series title to the record books.
Baker has helped to oversee the breakout of one of baseball’s best young pitching staffs, serving as skipper while Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy have all established themselves as quality MLB hurlers — with Valdez, in particular, blossoming to the point that he ought to finish in the top five of this year’s American League Cy Young voting (though teammate Justin Verlander will be the favorite to win the award).
The 2022 season not only brought Baker his first World Series win as a manager but also saw him eclipse the 2000-win mark, making him just the 12th person to ever reach that milestone. Baker’s 2093 managerial wins currently place him ninth all-time, but another go-around in Houston will afford him the opportunity to take aim at Joe McCarthy (2125 wins), Bucky Harris (2158 wins) and Sparky Anderson (2194 wins) next season .
Baker would need a 102-win campaign to surpass Anderson and move into sole possession of sixth-place on the all-time list, but given the quality of the Houston core, that’s hardly an unattainable goal. His Astros just won 106 games in 2022, after all, and the team’s only free agent of true note is Verlander, who’ll surely be a target if and when he declines his player option and returns to the open market.
As for Click, there’s been a good bit of speculation about his future with the team amid multiple reports of friction between him and Crane. It’d be a surprise to see any team move on from its top baseball operations executive on the heels of a World Series victory, however, so it seems that even if the two parties don’t always see eye to eye, Crane will offer Click the opportunity to return on a new contract for at least the 2023 campaign. That forthcoming offer, of course, does n’t necessarily guarantee that Click will return, but it’s nevertheless of clear note that Crane will at least ostensibly place the ball in his GM’s court.