James Click of Houston Astros wins World Series, has no contract

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LAS VEGAS — A day after the World Series champion Houston Astros’ celebratory rally, general manager James Click is responding to questions about job security. Reporters covering general managers’ meetings nearby were asking Klick’s peers about the underachieving season and free agents — about baseball — as his Astros failed to win.

But Click, who is out of contract and has yet to sign another contract, is forced to answer questions about whether he will return next season, a question only Astros owner Jim Crane can answer. Most general managers who lead teams to World Series championships don’t have to worry about their jobs. But most owners aren’t Jim Crane.

“We’re talking,” Klick said when asked if he was under contract for next season. He said the conversation with Crain’s was “pre-float, pre-flight” shortly after he disembarked from the parade float in Houston on Monday and before he flew to Las Vegas for the annual baseball operations leaders conference. that. He declined to comment further.

Astros manager Dusty Baker also remains unsigned for next season. But Baker was in the same position last year, confident he would be back just hours after the Astros won the title Saturday. He soon signed the contract.

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About 30 minutes before Click was scheduled to join his American League peers Tuesday afternoon, the Astros sent a news release announcing a Wednesday afternoon press conference in Houston. When asked what the press conference was about, Click said he wouldn’t comment, but admitted he hadn’t heard about it until “recently.” Asked if he would be there to sign a contract extension with Baker, he said he would not.

“I plan to be here,” he said, “trying to get the team together next year.”

In Las Vegas, the Nationals got off to a soft start to their second rebuilding season

In some ways, Click’s position is not unique among general managers.

Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees is also without a contract. But Cashman said last week that he understands that owner Hal Steinbrenner wants him back and expects him to return. What was evident was when Click politely dodged the question of whether someone in his position should be questioning his future, and more importantly, why someone in his position would be asking such a question. is Surprisingly, for all his success, his business relationship with Crane is a much weaker one.

“We’re different,” Click said. “We have things that we do very differently. We have some things that are very consistent. This will be true in the relationship between boss and employee. He likes to act very quickly in some cases. I tend to be more deliberate. He’s very demanding, but he gives you the resources to do what he asks of you.”

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Crane hired Click to handle baseball operations ahead of the 2020 season after Jeff Luhnow was fired over allegations of stealing the team’s logo. Klick served as vice president of baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have no room for error. The Astros do. In this way, Klick said, he was trained to be “accurate” in his decision-making, not necessarily inconsistent with Crane’s reputation as a rebellious and sometimes arrogant decision-maker.

“I have no problem being fast and aggressive,” Click said. “But I also want us to do our work up front and not follow a ‘fire, ready, aim’ philosophy.”

“Philosophical differences” have undone a number of power couples over the years, and then they might separate Click from Crane. He declined to say whether other teams approached him in the past few days. He also declined to say what influenced the outcome of the negotiations with his owner.

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And he refused to say, or simply couldn’t say, why he didn’t think someone of his success would come back. After all, most championship-winning GMs go into these meetings with something of a post-title bent — not exactly split, but not having to manage anything resembling awkwardness or drama.

“That’s someone else’s question,” he said.

“All of us in these jobs are driven by the reality of our own situation,” added Click, whose unique situation was inheriting a scandal-plagued team, insisting that team be in a position to win, and then leading it back to back. The World Series ended with this season’s championship. Many owners will be satisfied with such results. Expect many general managers to be rewarded for these results.

Just clicking doesn’t tell it all by itself. He will not express his displeasure in public. In fact, he asked about his team whether he would work or not in a few days. And instead of answering questions, he joked that he should go to the casino, which was his hot streak this season. He answered questions about job security Tuesday afternoon.

“‘Fair’ is a difficult word to define in many ways,” he said. “We all face our own situations. We deal with them as best we can.”

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