The Houston Astros are bringing back manager Dusty Baker on a one-year deal, the team announced Friday.
Baker, 72, led the Astros to the World Series in 2021 after taking over the team before the 2020 season.
“He’s done a great job this last year,” owner Jim Crane said. “Great in the locker room, great with the fans, great with the media. We’re very, very excited to have him back.”
Baker has taken five different teams to the postseason and came within two victories of winning his first World Series as a manager this year. He ranks 12th in major league history with 1,987 career wins and could move up to ninth with 54 victories in 2022, passing Bruce Bochy (2,003), Leo Durocher (2,008) and Walter Alston (2,040).
“Looking forward to being part of this organization and this city,” Baker said. “I have some tremendous ties here and have some unfinished business to take care of. But we’re close. We’re getting better and better every year.”
Asked if he was excited to return, Baker responded, “Like my son asks me all the time, ‘Dad, are you excited?’ Yeah, but I don’t jump up and down and show my excitement. I feel my excitement on the inside.”
Baker led the Astros to the American League Championship Series in 2020 before winning the AL West in 2021. Houston beat the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS and the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS before losing to the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.
He took over as a steady hand after the Astros fired AJ Hinch because of the team’s sign-stealing scandal that rocked baseball in 2019. Baker said he believes the team has moved past those dark days.
“I talked to a lot of players,” Baker said. “Some guys are interested in coming here that might not have been interested in coming here before, so I think our future is very bright.”
The Astros indicated that they may give a qualifying offer to pitcher Justin Verlander, who missed the season after Tommy John surgery. And they are monitoring right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. as he continues to rest after experiencing forearm soreness during the postseason.
As for free-agent star Carlos Correa, the team plans to talk with him again after the sides weren’t able to come to a long-term agreement before the 2021 season.
“I guess you’re looking for a [contract] number,” Crane said with a smile when asked what those conversations might look like. “We kind of know where he’s looking. We’re going to sit down and put our best foot forward, something that fits into our formula and hopefully that fits into his formula.”