Baker excited to return to Astros for 2022

Houston signs veteran manager to 1-year contract extension

November 5th, 2021

HOUSTON -- After coming up two wins shy of winning the World Series championship that’s eluded him during his nearly quarter-century as a Major League manager, Dusty Baker said after Tuesday’s Game 6 loss to the Braves in the Fall Classic that he still has some “unfinished business.”

Baker, 72, will get at least one more chance to try to win his ring after the Astros announced during a Friday press conference at Minute Maid Park that they had signed him to a one-year contract extension. The 2022 season will mark Baker’s 25th as a Major League manager and his third with the Astros, who hired him in January 2020.

“We’re happy to have him back,” owner Jim Crane said. “He’s done a great job this last year.”

In two seasons in Houston, Baker’s Astros lost in seven games in the American League Championship Series to the Rays in 2020, then advanced to the World Series this year, before losing to the Braves in six games. Houston won its fourth AL West title in five seasons in '21, winning 95 regular-season games.

“The unfinished business is to win the World Series, not only for me, but for the organization as well,” Baker said. “We’ve been to the World Series the last couple of times and had a good year, but not a great year. These guys were very disappointed, but they also know we’ll be back. We’re keeping the core guys, and hopefully we’ll find a way to sign Carlos [Correa] or Carlos will find a way to return.”

The return of Baker answered one of the Astros’ biggest offseason questions, with the future of free-agent shortstop Correa looming as another. Correa’s future likely won’t be decided any time soon, but Crane said Friday the team plans to make a run at trying to bring him back.

“We’re going to give him something we think fits into our formula and hope it fits into his formula,” said Crane, who added that the team’s 2022 payroll will again be among the highest in baseball.

That’s music to the ears of Baker, who will enter '22 only 13 wins shy of reaching 2,000 for his career. His 1,987 victories are 12th most all-time, and 10 of the 11 managers who have more wins are in the Hall of Fame. The only one who isn’t is Bruce Bochy, who’s not yet eligible.

“I’m glad to be back,” Baker said. “We have an exciting future here, and present. I’m looking forward to being part of this organization and the city. I’ve got some tremendous ties here. I've just got some unfinished business to take care of. We’re close. We’re getting better every year. I thank the organization for giving us the pieces, thank [general manager] James Click for adding the pieces at the right time and the togetherness we have on this team. I’m very proud to be the team’s leader.”

Several Astros players said they wanted to see Baker return after the Astros’ season ended Tuesday.

“He did an amazing job this year, and he took us to the World Series,” second baseman Jose Altuve said.

Earlier this year, Baker became the first manager in MLB history to win a division title with five different clubs and later became the ninth manager to win a pennant in both the AL and NL.

“It’s a tremendous city, a tremendous opportunity, and I have some tremendous players on my team,” Baker said. “I think we’re even going to get better.”

Baker, who also managed the Giants (1993-2002), Cubs (2003-06), Reds (2008-13) and Nationals (2016-17), said he’s learned to embrace analytics in Houston and joked that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

“Now that I’m here, you might as well seize the moment and do the best you can for this organization, the best for the city, my family and other potential guys coming up behind me,” Baker said. “My main goal is to win the pennant. If you win the pennant, everything else takes care of itself.”