Four questions facing Astros after Houston captures second World Series title in franchise history

The Houston Astros won the 2022 World Series on Saturday night, beating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. The Astros’ win secured their second championship in the last six years, a stretch that has included four American League pennants and six straight trips to the League Championship Series.

While the Astros organization can (and should) take a few days to celebrate and chart a parade route, the reality of professional sports is that the clock is still ticking. Soon, the Astros will return to their wife, figuring out how to improve their roster in time for the start of another regular season.

With that in mind, we here at CBS Sports would like to highlight four key questions that will be facing the Astros this season, starting with the fate of their mastermind and ace Justin Verlander, and extending to their chances to win another ring.

Let’s go.

1. Will brain trust return?

Owner Jim Crane hired general manager James Click and manager Dusty Baker in early 2020 after firing their predecessors, Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch, for their involvement in the team’s sign-stealing scandal . Both Click and Baker’s contracts are now set to expire.

It appears to be a given that each will receive lucrative extensions — the Astros just won the World Series, after all, plus their second straight pennant — but the buzz has not been lacking in recent speculation that Click might be. removed over philosophical differences with a more involved Gru. Comparatively, Baker’s return seems more certain, assuming he wants to continue. No one could blame Baker if he withdrew after the decision his legacy was complete.

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Even if Click returns, the Astros’ front office will look different going forward. Houston lost a pair of well-regarded assistant general managers already this winter to other teams: Pete Putila left to become the general manager of the San Francisco Giants, while Oz Ocampo joined the Miami Marlins as an assistant general manager. .

2. What about Verlander?

Last season, the Astros signed Justin Verlander to a one-year deal with a conditional player option for the 2023 season. He met the terms of that option when he cleared the 130-inning mark, meaning he he can return for $25 million, or he can opt out and seek a more lucrative deal on the open market.

Our guess is that Verlander will be disabled. When he put pen to paper last winter, he did so from a position of relative weakness. He had pitched in just one game since the end of the 2019 postseason after undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of 2020. After essentially two lost seasons, it was unclear if and how he would return.

Now, Verlander has answered those questions in stunning fashion, posting a 1.75 ERA in 28 starts en route to what could be his third career AL Cy Young Award win. It is not a stretch to think that he could pursue a contract similar in rate, if not term to the two-year agreement that Max Scherzer signed last season for a value of almost $87 million.

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Of course, Verlander wanting to secure a bigger bag doesn’t inherently mean he’ll leave the Astros. It just means they have to sit down to keep their ace in town.

3. Is it time for more extensions?

Beyond Verlander, the Astros don’t have many notable free agents to worry about. Deadline acquisitions Trey Mancini and Christian Vázquez will both hit the open market, and they may be joined by starting catcher Martín Maldonado and relievers Rafael Montero, Ryne Stanek and Phil Maton. The Astros will presumably decline their club option on Will Smith, and perhaps Hector Neris, too, prompting them to assemble most of a new bullpen on the fly this season.

Otherwise? Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and Lance McCullers Jr. they are locked up through at least the 2024 season, making this winter an optimal time for the front office to examine the cost of extending some of their other younger talent.

Lefty Framber Valdez, outfielder Kyle Tucker, and righty Cristian Javier have more than three years of big league service time. In layman’s terms, they are all expected to be eligible for free agency at the conclusion of the 2025 campaign. The Astros could try to sign one of the three to a contract that would buy them a few additional seasons, as well as some cost certainty for the duration of their eligibility to arbitration?

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Elsewhere, the Astros could take a swing at a long-term deal for World Series MVP Jeremy Peña, who racked up nearly five wins above replacement in his rookie season. Peña celebrated his 25th birthday in September, and won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2024 season, at which point he’ll be 27. It’s possible the Astros are content to go year-to-year with him. for a while

4. Can they repeat?

Major League Baseball hasn’t had a repeat World Series champion in more than two decades, or since the New York Yankees won three straight titles from 1998-2000. The constant playoff expansion and the unpredictability of postseason baseball means the odds are against the Astros lifting the trophy again next fall. However, it is to reason that some team to some point will win back-to-back titles.

The Astros, for their part, seem well positioned to triumph again in the American League West, depending on what the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers do this winter. After that, who can say what might happen? The entire offseason waits from here until the start of another spring. For now, though, it seems fair to expect the Astros to be among the favorites to win the World Series in early 2023.

Astros World Series gear now available

The Houston Astros won their second World Series title. Now, you can celebrate with hats, shirts, hoodies, and more. See the entire collection here.

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