HOUSTON -- Several of the biggest names in baseball -- Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and George Springer among them -- sat on a camera platform behind a crowd of reporters in a show of support and appreciation for Astros manager AJ Hinch.That was a sign the club's decision
HOUSTON -- Several of the biggest names in baseball -- Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and George Springer among them -- sat on a camera platform behind a crowd of reporters in a show of support and appreciation for Astros manager AJ Hinch.
That was a sign the club's decision to sign Hinch to a four-year contract extension was as popular with the players as it was with the front office. Hinch, the only manager to lead the Astros to a World Series championship, will remain with the club through the 2022 season after signing the extension, which was announced Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park by owner Jim Crane and general manager and president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow.
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Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
"Who wouldn't sign up to be the manager of the Houston Astros?" Hinch said.
Crane praised Hinch for his communication, not only with the players but with baseball operations staff. His background as a former top prospect with the A's, a seven-year Major League career as a player and front-office veteran with the D-backs and Padres gives Hinch a unique skillset.
"We have a good line of communication and everybody does their job just like we do on the field, and we've seen great results," Crane said. "AJ's great to work with. Everybody is comfortable and we just have to keep working hard and continue to excel like we have. He's done a great job with the players."
Hinch, 44, has posted a 353-266 career regular-season record in four seasons in Houston, including two trips to the postseason (2015 and '17) and likely a third this year. He ranks fifth in Astros history in wins, just two behind Harry Walker's 355.
"Today is obviously a big day for me and my family," Hinch said. "It's hard to put into words what a day like today means to me. I try to thank the appropriate people because it's certainly great to work in this great organization. Jeff and Jim have been tremendous to me. This is the second time we had contract discussions when we didn't have to, and that's a lot of respect, a lot of appreciation, a lot of feelings for me for gratitude that we'd get to this day."
Hinch's managerial record speaks for itself, but his calm presence and commitment and belief in his players has made him popular inside the clubhouse and out.
"He was able to take a good team at the time [in 2015] and develop us into what we are today," said Springer, who is as close to Hinch as any player. "He lets us be ourselves, he lets us play the game and just kind of enjoy the game in itself. Not a lot of people do that. He deserves everything he gets, and I'm happy for him."
In addition to many of the Astros players, the coaching staff also attended the press conference.
"It means a lot to me," Hinch said. "This is one job that's hard. It's a thorough job and it's an extension of what the coaches do, what the front office does and ultimately what the players do to allow me to be in this position and be in this job. To be the manager of the Houston Astros means the world to me and it has since the day Jeff and Jim hired me to be here."
The move will provide stability for an Astros organization that in June promoted Luhnow, signing him to a five-year contract extension through 2023 and adding the title of president of baseball operations.
"Before the 2015 season, we took a chance on AJ and brought him in," Luhnow said. "He delivered for us immediately. He took our roster past the Wild Card to the Division Series and really changed the culture and the atmosphere in the clubhouse. When I hired AJ, at the press conference I said, 'AJ's going to be our manager when we win the first World Series for Houston.' I'm now telling you AJ's going to be the manager when we win the second and hopefully the third World Series for Houston."
Hinch led the Astros to the playoffs in his first season as manager in 2015 and was given a new contract for '16, which included an option for '19. Hinch's new deal begins next season, guaranteeing him to be on the job for seven seasons. That would make him the team's second-longest tenured manager behind Bill Virdon, who managed part of the 1975 season and the seven following seasons through '82.
"This is home," Hinch said. "This is where my daughters are going to graduate high school. This is the community we fell in love with, living in Houston, Texas. That was certainly my commitment back to the organization is I'm here to grind for the next four years and hopefully beyond and be the manager of what we hope to be the best era in Astros history."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.