The Astros remain without a general manager less than a month from the start of Spring Training. Owner Jim Crane dismissed former GM James Click at the start of the offseason once Click declined a one-year extension offer on the heels of a World Series win. That came after months of reported friction between owner and GM, leaving Houston’s front office in a state of uncertainty.
Crane does not appear to be in a rush to tab a new baseball ops leader. Speaking with reporters this evening at the Houston Sports Awards, the owner indicated he’s not feeling pressure to make a move (link via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle). “We’re still searching,” Crane said. “We’re scanning the crowd right now. No, look, we’re still working on it. We’ll take our time and get it right.”
Unsurprisingly, Crane did not offer many specifics about the ongoing search. He noted that he is considering candidates from both inside and outside the organization. Perhaps most notably, Crane said he has note reached out to the Brewers about the possibility of interviewing former Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns for a front office position.
Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported earlier this week that Houston was eyeing Stearns, who’d worked for the Astros before landing the top gig with the Brewers in 2015. Stearns held that post for seven years until resigning at the start of this offseason. General manager Matt Arnold, his longtime top lieutenant, took control of the baseball ops department. Stearns, who is under contract with the Brewers through the end of the 2023 campaign, has remained on hand as an advisor to Arnold and owner Mark Attanasio. For any club to hire or even interview Stearns before the end of the upcoming season, they’d need Attanasio to sign off.
While Crane said he hasn’t contacted the Brewers thus far, he didn’t specify whether he planned to do so at any point in the process. Of course, it’s not clear whether the 37-year-old Stearns would have any interest even if the Astros did reach out. When he announced he was stepping down in October, the Harvard graduate firmly stated he was “not going anywhere” other than Milwaukee in the short term and stressed he was embracing an opportunity to spend more time with his family with his lightened workload.
A few people are known to be under consideration for the Houston job. Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown, former Giants general manager Bobby Evans, Guardians assistant GM James Harris and longtime Astros catcher and former Tigers/Angels skipper Brad Ausmus have all been linked to the search in recent days. A report from USA Today over the weekend pained Brown as the frontrunner, but Rome hears from a source that it’s still too early in the process for any individual to have pulled firmly ahead of the pack.