James ClickImage: Getty Images
The Astros are World Series Champions again! [Editor’s note: Don’t remind me.] After the legitimacy of their 2017 title was questioned following the 2019 season, the Astros have done a lot of damage control, building almost an all-new roster over the past three years. The Astros 2022 roster included just 11 players who were on the 2019 team. Despite the rotating door of outfielders, Justin Verlander’s injury woes, and the departure of key players like Carlos Correa and George Springer, the Astros managed to make the ALCS in all three of James Click’s seasons as GM, topped off with a notable postseason that saw Houston lose only two games. This is excellent GM work! Click took a team no one else wanted and managed to build winner after winner after winner while rebuilding the franchise’s reputation. He deserves this championship!
So what will Click do for Houston in his first title defense? Absolutely nothing.
Click resigned from Astros after rejecting their new contract offer, which included a pay rise. At first glance, this may appear as if Click were to use the ‘Stros. He’s retiring from a raise at an organization he’s comfortable with and just won a championship with? That seems disrespectful, doesn’t it? Gosh what any context does.
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You see, while Click is considered one of the brightest minds in baseball right now, he didn’t make a monumental salary as the Astros’ GM. In 2021, Click made just $1 million. While that’s obviously no small amount for a GM, it’s still 50 percent less than former Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore’s 2020 salary ($1.5 million) — and he’s entering the postseason only twice in 14 years at this point. Clearly, Click’s raise wasn’t as big as he felt he deserved. Reportedly, Click was so offended by the offer that he expressed his frustration at a league-wide GM meeting. He was particularly upset with the length of the contract, and when owner Jim Crane learned of Click’s displeasure, the breakup was all but inevitable.
To make matters worse, the Astros yesterday signed 32-year-old helper Rafael Montero to a three-year, $34.5 million deal, though 2022 marked his first season showing his skills in a relief role. His career ERA before 2022 was 5.18. It appears the Astros are willing to make long-term commitments to people who played pivotal roles in the 2022 championship, just not the guy who brought them all together.
I don’t know if there’s ever been an instance of such a senior team official being “let go” – I know Click wasn’t “fired” per se, but he and Crane had major grievances with each other and so on the terrible extension offer makes it look like they want to get him out but not fire him – right after a championship. Sure, the GM position should be an easy one given Astros’ winning streak over the past few seasons, but given how easily Crane was willing to dump Click, perhaps some potential suitors will back down from the position. It’s not looking good for Crane, but the Astros are poised to contend for another World Series title in the years to come, so I doubt he cares much.