Astros hire Dana Brown as general manager, ending extended front office vacancy
The Houston Astros' three-month era of general manager-by-committee – helmed by owner Jim Crane – has ended.
The Astros on Thursday announced they have hired former Atlanta Braves evaluator Dana Brown as their general manager, ending a period that saw the dismissal of former GM James Click and the majority of the club's off-season transactions orchestrated by Crane.
Brown, 55, brings a more seasoned and traditional scouting background to the job than his most recent predecessors, Click and Jeff Luhnow, who were hired at 42 and 44 years old, respectively.
Luhnow remade the Astros' franchise – and, in a sense, the industry – by fusing his consulting background and baseball acumen to create a player acquisition monster that the club still benefits from as it aims for a seventh consecutive trip to the American League Championship Series this year.
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But Luhnow was fired in January 2020 after his involvement in the sign-stealing scandal that sullied the club's 2017 World Series title and the franchise as a whole. Click was quickly hired in February 2020 and admirably continued the run of success started by Luhnow. While the club remains heavily dependent on players acquired by Luhnow - 2022 postseason hero Jeremy Peña was drafted by his regime - Click augmented the group sufficiently to construct the 2022 World Series champions.
Yet the rushed union of Crane and Click didn't quite take. The pair's relationship began to fray a bit last season, as Crane got more heavily involved in decisions, and Click's departure was assured when Crane offered just a one-year contract in the days after the Astros' World Series title.
Crane, aided by Astros legend Jeff Bagwell and Hall of Fame advisor Reggie Jackson, set out to improve the club himself in the absence of a GM. He quickly signed first baseman Jose Abreu to a three-year, $58.5 million deal, didn't hesitate to let reigning Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander walk and re-upped outfielder Michael Brantley.
But Crane insisted he'd hire a permanent GM and Brown's track record is impressive. He was the Braves' vice president of scouting in an era that saw them acquire reigning National League Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II and runner-up Spencer Strider.
Brown held similar roles with the Toronto Blue Jays (2010-2018) and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals (2001-2009) during periods where both franchises acquired amateur talent that would lay the groundwork for eventual playoff runs, building a case that made him the frontrunner for his first GM job, in Houston.
Along with manager Dusty Baker, who is signed for the 2023 season, Brown helps comprise just the second combination of Black field managers and GMs, joining the White Sox's Jerry Manuel and Ken Williams from 2000-2003. He and Williams are the only active heads of baseball operations who are Black
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Astros hire Dana Brown as general manager, replacing James Click.