Dusty Baker to return as champion Astros’ manager in 2023

For years, as Dusty Baker chased his first World Series title as a manager, the former big league outfielder would always say if he won one he’d like to win two.

Baker will get an opportunity to do just that after he signed a one-year contract with the Houston Astros for the 2023 season.

“How many times in your life do you say something and then have the opportunity to fulfill it?” Baker said Wednesday. “I wasn’t just talking. I meant what I said. I love keeping my word. So, hey man we’ve got a chance to win back-to-back and this is what I’d like to do.”

Baker, 73, earned his first World Series championship as a manager in his 25th season as a skipper when the Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in six games Saturday. The days since then have been a “whirlwind” for Baker, who has been packing to head home to California and said he has about 1,500 texts and countless emails he hasn’t had a chance to read.

With everything he has going on, it was good that it didn’t take long for Baker and team owner Jim Crane to agree to a new contract. Crane said the discussion was a quick one, lasting only about 15 minutes.

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“He wanted another year so that’s what we gave him,” Crane said. “He’s a legend and he’s really done a lot for the team.”

Things aren’t so straightforward for general manager James Click, whose contract also expired at the end of the season.

Click stated Tuesday night at the general managers’ meetings in Las Vegas that he was having discussions about his future with Crane.

“We’re in discussions and when he gets back, we’ll complete those discussions,” Crane said.

Baker also won the World Series as a player on the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers. Although he always stated he wanted to win more than one title as a manager once he won one, he did take a little time to reflect after Saturday’s win and make sure he wanted to return for another season.

“I’d be going against what I was destined to do if I did anything else at this point in time,” he said. “I prayed on it and my answer was: ‘Hey man, get your butt back out there and manage again.'”

Click and Baker both joined the team in 2020 to replace general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch, who were fired in the aftermath of Houston’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane raved about Baker’s strong presence in leading the team and trying to rebuild the image of the franchise after the cheating scandal.

“The day he walked in the door, he was very calm and certainly has a ton of experience,” Crane said. “And he did a great job in kind of settling things down, getting everybody focused on playing baseball and winning games.”

Baker took over for the COVID-19-shortened season. The Astros squeaked into the postseason as an AL wild card before heating up in the playoffs and coming one victory shy of reaching the World Series.

The Astros won 95 games in 2021 and Baker made his first trip to the Series since 2002 with the San Francisco Giants, but came up short again as Houston fell to the Atlanta Braves in six games.

This season, Houston won 106 games for the second-best record in franchise history. It captured its second World Series title and first since the scandal-tainted 2017 championship.

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