Sean Pendergast

Houston Astros Part Ways With General Manager James Click

James Click is out after three seasons as Houston Astros general manager.
James Click is out after three seasons as Houston Astros general manager. Screen grab from Youtube
Even as the Astros were entering the home stretch of their most successful season in franchise history, there was a soft drumbeat from behind the scenes. That drumbeat was the sound of possible discord amongst the power triumvirate running things for the sport's most successful franchise over the last half decade or so.

Entering the back half of the 2022 season, owner Jim Crane had not yet offered contract extensions to manager Dusty Baker nor general manager James Click, both of whom had contracts expiring at the end of the 2022 postseason. Baker's situation seemed the far less contentious of the two, with an underlying assumption that the manager would be asked back. Click was a different story, with tales of conflict and disagreement between the GM and the owner bubbling to the surface around September, even as the Astros were on their playoff run.

Well, over the last three days, we've gotten answers to many of the questions we've all had. Baker is coming back for another season, and on Friday morning, the Astros sent out a press release that dropped this bomb across the baseball landscape — James Click will not return as GM of the Astros:
HOUSTON, TX - Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane announced today that the Houston Astros and General Manager James Click will not enter into a renewal for the 2023 season.

“We are grateful for all of James’ contributions,” Crane said. “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.”

Further announcements regarding the structure of Baseball Operations department will come at a later time.
There are any number of aspects of the Astros' organization that one can cite as sources of disagreement between the owner and the now former GM. Click expanded the team's scouting operation, which Crane reportedly agreed to begrudgingly. Click's trades at the deadline that got done (Trey Mancini, chief among them) were lacking in impact on the field. Reportedly, Crane vetoed a deal in which Click had arranged to trade pitcher Jose Urquidy to the Cubs for catcher Willson Contreras, vetoed at the behest of Baker.

In short, Click has been paddling upstream with his owner for quite some time, so that's less than ideal, if you're a fan of Click. In the end, though, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, it was Click's public handling of his uncertain contract status that did him in:
It's rare for a team performing at the historically high levels the Astros have been achieving to move on from their general manager, but the fact of the matter is that 20 of the 26 players on the playoff roster were either drafted, developed, signed by and/or traded for by GM's not named "James Click." A vast majority of those 20 players were brought in by former GM Jeff Luhnow, who was fired in January 2020 in the wake of the sign stealing scandal.

So now the attention turns to the future. Free agency has started, but the reality is that Crane can handle any necessary GM-type business for the Astros over the next few weeks, while they find their next general manager. The main item on the docket is bringing back Justin Verlander, and Crane would have been negotiating that deal anyway, even if Click were still the GM.

One thing for certain — it's never a dull time with the Houston Astros!

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast