MLB

Astros owner Jim Crane still interviewing GM candidates, but no rush to hire James Clicks replacement

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The Houston Astros are in an unusual position. They are the defending World Series champions and will again be on the short list of World Series contenders heading into 2023, but they do not have a general manager. The Astros and GM James Click parted ways in November after Click turned down a one-year contract extension.

Owner Jim Crane and assistant GMs Andrew Ball, Charles Cook and Bill Firkus have handled the club’s decision-making duties this offseason, notably signing José Abreu, re-signing Michael Brantley and allowing AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander to leave as a free agent. At some point, the Astros are expected to hire a new GM. It just hasn’t happened yet.

Wednesday night at the Houston Sports Awards, Crane told MLB.com that he has “interviewed a lot of people” for the GM job, though he has yet to ask the Milwaukee Brewers for permission to interview David Stearns. Stearns, who has a year left on his contract, stepped down as president of baseball operations in October and moved into an advisory role.

Stearns has Astros ties — he worked in Houston’s front office from 2013-15 — though it’s unclear if he has interest in rejoining the club. The New York Mets have previously been denied permission to interview Stearns (a New York native), though no permission will be needed after 2023. Stearns may want to see what Mets owner Steve Cohen offers before jumping into anything.

The Astros have reportedly shown interest in the Atlanta Braves’ vice president of scouting Dana Brown and former Astros player Brad Ausmus for the GM role, among others. Click has yet to join a new team, although he obviously won’t be returning to Houston. Crane offered his World Series-winning GM an insulting one-year extension, an offer made only to be rejected.

When they see how Crane & Co. now having gone nearly an entire offseason without a GM, they’re clearly in no rush to hire. Things will get hectic once spring training and the regular season begin, and they’ll probably have a GM running points on the day-to-day operations once the players take the field again. Until then, Crane runs the show and interviews candidates.

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