GM: Astros plan to offer extension to Bregman at some point

In wide-ranging Q&A, Brown discusses Verlander's shoulder, player development

February 28th, 2024 had a sit-down interview with Astros general manager Dana Brown on Wednesday. He answered a wide range of topics -- from the team’s new manager Joe Espada to Alex Bregman, who is a free agent after the season. This is your second season as a general manager. What is the biggest thing you have learned about the job that you didn’t know before?

Dana Brown: Probably the biggest thing is managing the roster. Of course, when you are in scouting, you are basically adding prospects to the system. It’s a little different being a GM. … You have to coordinate conversations with the manager and your front-office members. Sometimes, a manager may want to go one way. The front office may want to go another way and you have to figure out -- ultimately -- which way you are going to go. This is your first year without Dusty Baker as manager. What will you miss about him, and did you get along with him?

Brown: We got along great. Anytime you have a manager and a GM, you are going to have disagreements. But we had huge respect for each other. I respected Dusty for a long time. I watched him as a kid. I watched him play. I know he is an outstanding baseball man. He has great thoughts, great stories, great ideas. We hit it off well because we are two baseball guys.

Every now and then, we had to have some tough conversations or I may want to make a change with the roster. He may want to hold on to the player. Sometimes, we have to meet somewhere in the middle. Ultimately, I felt like we had a good relationship. The Astros have Espada as their manager. One thing I have to say about Joe: the guy has energy. He is all over the place. What do you like about him?

Brown: Joe is an outstanding baseball guy. He has a really good feel for the game. He runs a good operation. I got a chance to see him run Spring Training last year. He was Dusty’s right-hand man. He is also an outstanding human being. He is easy to talk to, strong with his opinions, but very fair in his assessments. You are known to draft and develop players from Ryan Zimmerman to Michael Harris II. Are there any players who can make an impact on the Astros this year?

Brown: I think [prospect Jacob] Melton has a chance to come up and make an impact. I also think [prospect] Spencer Arrighetti can make an impact as a starter. He is throwing the ball well. In his first Spring Training outing, he had two really good innings, so he is off to a good start. Melton is not off to a great start, but he has made a lot of adjustments. He is working on a new approach -- hitting-wise. But I think he is going to get to his power. He can steal bases and he is a really good defensive player. As you head into Opening Day, what is your biggest concern right now?

Brown: We really have to focus on who is going pitch in the middle of our bullpen. We are really good at the back end with Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly and Josh Hader. Now because Héctor Neris, Ryne Stanek and Phil Maton left and became free agents, what are we going to do in innings four, five and six? That’s where our focus is now. We have good starters. We don’t feel we are going to be in that position too often. You talk about the rotation. No concerns about Justin Verlander, who is dealing with shoulder issues?

Brown: No concerns about Verlander. He never stopped throwing the whole time. We have to remember that he is an older guy, but he knows his body. So he delayed it a little bit. I think he is going to be fine.

If he was on the shelf and we had to shut him down or something like that, I would be concerned. But he is still throwing bullpens. He is still out there pitching. He is still working on his craft, so I think he is going to be fine." You also have to deal with potential free agents in Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. No question, these guys have been come through in the clutch for the team. Will you be able to sign them long term?

Brown: Here is the deal. With Tucker, we have more time. People are making it seem like Tucker is [a free agent after this season]. He is with us through 2025. At some point, yes, we will make Tucker an offer.

With Bregman this year, we are going to make him an offer at some point. He has done great things for this organization. We told him at some point we are going to make him an offer. We hope that offer is going to be good enough. But at the end of the day, he has done great things for this organization. He is a pillar, and we would like to keep him around.