HOUSTON -- Now that Dusty Baker has retired from managing after spending four years in Houston, the Astros will begin the search to find his replacement. Houston’s previous two managers -- A.J. Hinch and Baker -- won World Series titles, and Houston’s window to contend remains wide open considering it will return most of its roster from last year.
This is the second year in a row the Astros have had a major shakeup in leadership. Former general manager James Click didn’t re-sign with the club after the Astros won the World Series last year, and Dana Brown was hired in late January to replace him. Now, Brown gets his first shot to hire a manager in a search that owner Jim Crane said would be “fluid.”
“We really haven't gotten into that,” Crane said Thursday. “Dana’s done a great job so far. And you know, we've got things really running well in the back office. And, so I don't think it'll take us very long to find someone that will fit in well with us.”
Here are 10 possible candidates to be the next Astros' manager:
Ausmus, the long-time Astros catcher and former manager of the Angels and Tigers, has been a finalist in Houston for both the GM job (which went to Brown) and manager job (which went to Baker), so he’s likely to be in the mix again. Ausmus, 54, is close friends with Jeff Bagwell, the team’s senior advisor to ownership and baseball operations.
Banister, who also interviewed with the Astros prior to the hiring of Baker, won two AL West division titles in four seasons as manager of the Rangers (2015-18) and is currently serving as the bench coach with the D-backs, who are in the World Series against Texas. Banister, 59, was born in La Marque, Texas, and attended the University of Houston.
Espada, who’s popular among the players, would be a turn-key hire considering he’s been on the Astros' staff since 2018, working as the bench coach under both Hinch and Baker. Espada, 48, has interviewed for a handful of managerial jobs in the last few years and has yet to get his turn, but if the Astros want a seamless transition and some continuity, Espada would be the easy choice.
Green, 46, is the former manager of the Padres, guiding them to a 274-366 record from 2016-19. He’s spent the last four seasons as the bench coach for the Cubs. Green has reportedly already interviewed for the Guardians' managerial position to take over for Terry Francona.
Kotsay, 47, has managed the A’s the last two years, losing 214 games during Oakland’s roster teardown. He interviewed with the Astros prior to the hiring of Baker and was a solid candidate. His team took two of three games from the contending Astros in Houston in September, but he’s under contract for one more year in Oakland.
The bench coach of the Rays, Linares, 46, is no stranger to the Astros' organization, a place he spent 20 seasons as a Minor League coach and manager. Among the players he managed are Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. Linares’ managerial experience includes guiding the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic last spring.
López is an Astros lifer, having been in the organization for 25 seasons. López, 46, is currently serving as Houston’s first-base coach and managed for years in the Astros' system, where he was Altuve’s first skipper. He also managed Venezuela to a quarterfinal appearance in the World Baseball Classic.
Venable, 40, also interviewed with the Astros in 2020 and remains a hot name in managerial circles. He’s the associate manager for the Rangers, who are in the World Series, and could be a manager-in-waiting in Texas, where Bruce Bochy has led his third team to the Fall Classic.
Weiss, a 14-year Major League veteran who was the 1988 AL Rookie of the Year with the A’s, spent four years (2013-16) as the manager in Colorado and averaged 71 wins. The 59-year-old has been the bench coach in Atlanta since 2018 and worked with Brown in Atlanta.
Eric Young Sr.
Young, the first-base coach for the Braves, attended high school in New Brunswick, N.J., with Brown. Young, 56, played 15 years in the big leagues with the Rockies, Dodgers, Rangers, Padres, Cubs, Brewers and Giants. A former baserunning instructor for the Astros, he’s also held first-base coaching jobs with the D-backs and Rockies.