The Astros are World Series champions once again! [Editor’s note: Don’t remind me.] After doing a lot of damage control since the legitimacy of their 2017 title was put in question following the 2019 season, the Astros built almost an entirely new squad over the last three years. The 2022 Astros’ roster featured only 11 players that were on the 2019 team. Despite the rotating door of outfielders, Justin Verlander’s injury issues, and the departure of key players like Carlos Correa and George Springer, the Astros managed to reach the ALCS in all three of James Click’s seasons as GM, capped off with a remarkable postseason that saw Houston lose just two games. That’s some excellent GM work! Click took a team nobody else wanted and managed to build winner after winner after winner while rebuilding the franchise’s reputation. He earned this championship!
So, what will Click do for Houston in his first title defense? Absolutely nothing.
Click stepped away from the Astros after rejecting their new contract offer, which included a pay raise. Upon first glance, this may seem like Click is slighting the ‘Stros. He’s stepping away from a pay raise with an organization he’s comfortable in and just won a championship with? That seems disrespectful, right? My, my what some context does.
You see, despite being regarded as one of the best minds in baseball currently, Click wasn’t making a monumental salary as the Astros’ GM. In 2021, Click earned just $1 million. While that’s obviously not a small amount for a GM, it’s still 50 percent less than the salary was in 2020 for former Kansas City Royals’ GM, Dayton Moore ($1.5 million) — and he only reached the postseason twice in 14 years to that point. Click’s raise clearly wasn’t as much as he felt he deserved. Per reports, Click felt so insulted by the offer that he aired his frustrations at a league-wide GM meeting. He was particularly upset with the contract length, and once word got back to owner Jim Crane of Click’s displeasure, the split was practically inevitable.
To make matters even worse, yesterday, the Astros signed 32-year-old reliever Rafael Montero to a three-year, $34.5 million deal, despite 2022 being his first season showing prowess in a relief role. His career ERA prior to 2022 was 5.18. It seems the Astros are willing to make long-term commitments to people who played a pivotal role in the 2022 championship, just not the guy who put them all together.
I don’t know if there’s ever been an instance where such a high-ranking team official was “let go” — I know Click wasn’t “fired” per se, but he and Crane had major grievances with one another, and the awful extension offer makes it seem as though they wanted him out, but didn’t want to fire him — immediately following a championship. Sure, the GM position should be easy to fill given the Astros’ string of success in recent seasons, but given how easily Crane was willing to drop Click, perhaps a few potential applicants will back off from the position. This isn’t a good look for Crane, but the Astros are in a position to compete for another World Series title for years to come, so I doubt he cares very much.