HOUSTON -- The Astros have an opening on their coaching staff after the Cardinals announced on Monday they hired Jeff Albert to be their hitting coach. Albert spent the 2018 season as Houston's second hitting coach after four years as Minor League hitting coordinator and another as the roving hitting
HOUSTON -- The Astros have an opening on their coaching staff after the Cardinals announced on Monday they hired Jeff Albert to be their hitting coach. Albert spent the 2018 season as Houston's second hitting coach after four years as Minor League hitting coordinator and another as the roving hitting instructor.
It's a homecoming, of sorts, for Albert, who was in the Cardinals' system from 2008-12, including one season as the hitting coach at Class A Batavia (2008) and four at Class A Advanced Palm Beach. Albert lives in Jupiter, Fla., which is the club's Spring Training home.
Last week, Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said the entire coaching staff was under contract for 2019, but he indicated other teams were asking permission to interview members of the coaching staff and front office. The rest of the club's coaching staff is expected to return, though bench coach Joe Espada has reportedly interviewed for the Rangers' vacant managerial position.
Meanwhile, assistant general manager Mike Elias is among a handful of candidates to become the Orioles' head of baseball operations, MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported on Monday. Elias followed Luhnow to Houston from St. Louis in 2012 and he was named assistant GM last August.
Astros have 7 free agents
With the World Series over, 145 players across MLB became free agents on Monday, including seven Astros: designated hitter Evan Gattis, infielder/outfielder Marwin Gonzalez, pitchers Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Tony Sipp and catcher Martin Maldonado.
Veteran catcher Brian McCann also became a free agent when the Astros declined his $15 million option for 2019 on Wednesday. Beginning on Monday, clubs can negotiate with their own free agents before all are eligible to negotiate and sign with other teams after the qualifying offer deadline has passed after 4 p.m. CT on Friday.
If a player accepts a qualifying offer from the Astros, he'll be under contract for one year next year for $17.9 million -- the mediate salary of the league's 125 highest-paid players. If he's extended a qualifying offer and declines, the Astros will receive a compensation Draft pick if that player signs with another club.
Keuchel, a first-time free agent, will be extended a qualifying offer, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, but not Gonzalez. Both players are represented by Scott Boras. Morton, who has hinted at retirement, could get a qualifying offer if he decides to pitch in 2019.
Only five of the 73 players who have been extended qualifying offers since the system began in 2012 have accepted the offers, including Colby Rasmus with the Astros after 2015. Players have until 4 p.m. CT on Nov. 12 to accept or reject the qualifying offer.
Gold Glove announcement
The 2018 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners, which are presented annually to the top defensive players in each league, will be announced at 8 p.m. CT on Sunday on ESPN. The Astros have three finalists: Keuchel at pitcher, Alex Bregman at third base and Maldonado at catcher.
Keuchel is seeking his fourth Gold Glove after taking home the award in the American League from 2014-16 (Toronto's Marcus Stroman won last year). Maldonado won his first Gold Glove last year while with the Angels, and Bregman is seeking his first Gold Glove.
All 18 Gold Glove Award winners will be eligible for the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award, which is given to the best defensive player in each league. Fans will be able to vote for the Platinum Glove Award winners at Rawlings.com. Voting ends at 9 p.m. CT on Nov. 8.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow <ahref="http: twitter.com/brianmctaggart"="">@brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.</ahref="http:>