Ending weeks of uncertainty, the Houston Astros announced Wednesday that Dusty Baker will become the club’s new manager..
USA TODAY Sports was first to report that Baker and the Astros had come to an agreement.
Houston is signing Baker to a one-year deal with a club option for a second year, hoping he will help lead them through their most tumultuous time in the wake of their cheating scandal.
“Throughout his successful career, Dusty has embodied the qualities that we were looking for in a manager,” owner Jim Crane said in a statement. “He’s a winner and more importantly, a strong leader who has earned the respect of not only his players, but of virtually everyone that he has touched in baseball.”
The Astros, who fired manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow for their roles in the scandal, also are expected to have a shake-up of their coaching staff.
“I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity,” Baker said. “This is a great ballclub with outstanding players that know how to win. I applaud Jim Crane for the leadership he has shown in recent weeks and look forward to working with him and the players to bring a championship to the City of Houston.”
The Astros will turn next to their GM search, with Peter Woodfork, MLB’s vice president of baseball operations, emerging as the leading contender. The Astros also have interviewed former San Francisco Giants GM Bobby Evans.
Baker, 70, was chosen among a field of nine managerial candidates, including veterans Buck Showalter, John Gibbons, Jeff Banister and Brad Ausmus.
Certainly, he was the most accomplished, winning 1,863 games in his 22-year career with seven first-place finishes and a National League pennant. He could become the first manager to lead five teams to postseason berths.
Baker is one of only seven managers, joining Hall of Famers John McGraw, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Sparky Anderson, Joe McCarthy, Walter Alston and Leo Durocher with that many victories and a .532 winning percentage.