HOUSTON -- Jeff Luhnow was the blueprint. Serving as the Astros' general manager since 2011, Luhnow transcendently restructured a depleted 100-loss club and made it a World Series champion. Luhnow put together the right pieces to make a championship come true -- and the Astros are making sure to hold
HOUSTON -- Jeff Luhnow was the blueprint. Serving as the Astros' general manager since 2011, Luhnow transcendently restructured a depleted 100-loss club and made it a World Series champion. Luhnow put together the right pieces to make a championship come true -- and the Astros are making sure to hold on to him.
"It wasn't too long ago that Jeff and I would go into a restaurant and people would slap us on the back and say, 'What in the hell are you guys doing?'" Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane said. "We proved them wrong, and I give him a lot of the credit."
In a news conference with Crane and Luhnow on Monday afternoon, the Astros announced they promoted Luhnow as the club's president of baseball operations and general manager, while signing him to a five-year contract extension running through 2023. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, per the club's policy.
The Astros hired Luhnow in December 2011 to be the 12th general manager in franchise history and tasked him with rebuilding a franchise that hadn't been to the postseason since 2005. On Monday, the club rewarded Luhnow for a mission accomplished -- and then some.
"I had a feeling when I got here in 2011 that we were going to be able to execute this plan and that it would lead to good results," Luhnow said. "I did not anticipate winning a World Series quite as soon as we did. I'm really glad, I'm not complaining.
"But really, this next phase of keeping this organization at its high level for an extended period of time, that's what drives me, that challenge. You look all around baseball, and you've got organizations that were successful in the last five years that are now having to rethink everything. We don't want to be them. We want to be, every year, competing and having a chance to win the championship. Personally, it's satisfying to have accomplished what we did and to have the vote of confidence from Jim to keep me around for a few years."
According to Luhnow, his new title was a vote of confidence given to him by Crane, securing him as the operator of the Astros' decision-making for the future. It's something he and Crane had been discussing since the conclusion of the 2017 World Series.
"It's a commitment both ways that I'm going to be here for the long haul," Luhnow said. "No one's going to be able to come around and offer me that title and take me away -- nor do I want that to happen. If there comes a point where I need to relinquish the GM title, I'll be ready to do that. But that's not right now. I'm going to keep running the operation the way we have. And we have really good directors at every level that I'm really happy with."
As for the other high-ranking members in Luhnow's baseball operations department, their statuses will not change, Luhnow said.
Assistant general manager Mike Elias will continue his control of the Astros' draft process and international scouting efforts. Senior director of baseball operations and analytics Brandon Taubman -- who assists Luhnow in player evaluation, contract valuation and roster construction -- will continue doing "a lot of the duties of assistant general manager," Luhnow said.
"Quite frankly, I'm going to be the general manager for the foreseeable future," Luhnow said. "But if there comes a point where we need that title to keep somebody or feel like it's the right thing to do, we'll make the move."
Luhnow and his staff, among the leaders in Major League Baseball's analytical revolution, delivered Justin Verlander at the Trade Deadline for last year's title chase. The group locked up the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, Jose Altuve, through 2024 with the richest contract in club history, signed earlier this spring.
And before that, there were the pickups of Charlie Morton -- who closed out Game 7 of the club's first championship in 2017 -- Josh Reddick, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran to steer a youthful bunch toward a trophy. Not to mention the reeling in of Cuban star Yuli Gurriel. There was also the gut-trusting selection of Alex Bregman in the 2015 Draft, with Carlos Correa already entrenched as the future at short. And Marwin Gonzalez was Luhnow's first acquisition as the club's general manager via the Rule 5 Draft.
After securing the title, there was no resting on their laurels, with the front office acquiring Gerrit Cole, who has helped the Astros post the top ERA in the Majors this season.
"He's the architect of this entire operation," said manager AJ Hinch, who Luhnow said he will work to retain as the Astros' manager for as long as he remains in Houston.
"We put together a pretty nice roster, but there's a lot of nice rosters that don't end up accomplishing what you and your staff accomplished for us, for this organization and city last year," Luhnow said to the Astros' manager. "I really want to thank you. I consider us partners in this, you're a great friend and a great colleague, and I hope that we have many more memories together."
Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com, based in Houston.