Brown: Astros pooling names of candidates to fill managerial vacancy

GM says Houston could begin conducting interviews during General Manager's Meetings

November 1st, 2023

HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Dana Brown said Wednesday the club has not started to interview candidates to become the next manager to replace Dusty Baker, who retired last week after four seasons in Houston. Brown, in a conference call with select reporters, said the search will be thorough and offered no timetable for fill the position.

Brown, hired in January, said his phone has been “blowing up” with people interested in the position, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the previous two Astros managers won World Series titles, and the team’s window of contention remains wide open in 2024. Houston has advanced to seven consecutive ALCS, losing Games 6 and 7 at home last week to the Rangers to get eliminated.

“We're not going to rush through this,” Brown said. “So there's not really a timeframe. But as far as a candidate, I'm looking for someone with some leadership ability, someone that could run the clubhouse, of course, looking for someone with great feel for players and managing players.

“There’s a lot that I'm looking for. I mean, he's got to know the game. He's got to be able to run a bullpen and most of all, he's got to have the leadership skills. I'm looking for someone who I could gel with and communicate well with.”

Brown said he was still in the process of gathering names of potential candidates and planned to “cast a net and get started here soon.” When asked if it’s possible that he could begin interviewing candidates at next week’s General Manager’s Meetings in Arizona, Brown said yes.

The Astros are expected to interview internal candidates Joe Espada, the team’s bench coach, and third base coach Omar López. Other candidates could include D-backs bench coach Jeff Banister and A’s manager Mark Kotsay, both of whom interviewed previously in Houston, and Brad Ausmus, a former finalist in the Astros’ search for a manager and a GM.

Brown, who was hired from Atlanta, may also give a look to Braves coaches Walt Weiss and Eric Young, who was a high school teammate of Brown. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday that Brewers manager Craig Counsell has drawn interest from the Astros.

“Previous managerial experience would be good, but it’s not necessary,” Brown said.

When asked what his priorities will be this offseason in terms of roster construction, Brown said the bullpen (Phil Maton, Ryne Stanek and likely Hector Neris are free agents) and adding a backup catcher behind Yainer Diaz. He didn’t rule out bringing back veteran Martín Maldonado, a free agent, to serve in that role.

“All of the guys that we have that are either free agents or if they're contract expired, we're going to talk and we’re going to be in communication with their agents and some of the players,” Brown said.

Brown remains bullish on his young starting pitching, which includes Hunter Brown, J.P France, Ronel Blanco and prospect Spencer Arrighetti. Injured starters Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. are expected to return from injuries next year and join a rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and José Urquidy.

“I think the rotation is a place where I think we're going to be okay,” Brown said. “As I said, we're good enough to win a division and get one game away [from the World Series].”