Astros finalize deal with Dusty Baker to lead them out of the wilderness

Chris Lingebach
January 28, 2020 - 5:42 pm
Dusty Baker finalizes deal to become Astros manager

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

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UPDATE: Wednesday, 4:38 p.m.

The deal is official. According to Ken Rosenthal, Dusty Baker finalizes a two-year deal to manage the Astros.

The Houston Astros are expected to hire Dusty Baker as their next manager, Bob Nightengale was first to report for USA TODAY Tuesday morning.

Not long after Nightengale's report went public, the Houston Chronicle splashed cold water on it, reporting Baker and the Astros remain in communication, but the deal is not yet finalized.

Confusing matters further, the Associated Press confirmed a short time later that Baker "is working to finalize an agreement to become manager of the Houston Astros," citing a person with knowledge of those negotiations.

"The Houston Astros, a franchise in the crosshairs of Major League Baseball’s cheating scandal, is about to choose Dusty Baker to be their next manager, according to a person familiar with the hiring," Nightengale reported.

As Nationals fans learned with Bud Black in Nov. 2015, no managerial deal is done until ink is on the paper. If Houston does finalize the deal with Baker, they'd be getting someone uniquely qualified for the job.

The 70-year-old skipper is tasked with guiding an Astros club that lost to his previous employer, the Washington Nationals, in the 2019 World Series. It's a badly wounded Astros club, to boot, coming off an MLB investigation into its electronic sign-stealing that resulted into heavy punishment and ultimately the firing of both their manager, A.J. Hinch, and general manager, Jeff Luhnow.

Baker is one of the most experienced managers in baseball, with 22 years at the helm of the Giants (1993-2002), Cubs (2003-06), Reds (2008-2013) and Nationals (2016-17), the latter of whom he guided to consecutive NL East championships with 95- and 97-win seasons, respectively. The only knock against Baker is that he's never been able to win the World Series. Both of his Nationals seasons ended in NLDS eliminations.

Baker has a lifetime managerial record of 1863-1636, a .532 winning percentage. He is a three-time National League Manager of the Year award recipient (1993, 1997, 2000).

The Astros have appeared in two of the last three World Series, winning the title in 2017, and three consecutive American League Championship Series. They were stripped of their first- and second-round drafts picks in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the cheating scandal, and Hinch and Luhnow were both issued one-year suspensions from baseball.

Brandon Taubman – their former assistant GM who was fired in October for making offensive comments to a group of female reporters – was also banned from working in baseball for one year and won't be eligible for reinstatement until the end of his suspension.

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