Change feels like it is coming for the Houston Astros, and that change could start with Dusty Baker's sun setting in the dugout.
Brought back on a one-year deal for the 2023 campaign as the Astros attempted to defend their World Series title, the 74-year-old Baker is not under contract for the 2024 season. With the Astros bowing out to the Texas Rangers in Game 7 of the ALCS on Monday night inside Minute Maid Park, could Baker be done in not only Houston, but perhaps his career as a manager as well?
Is Dusty Baker done with the Houston Astros?
Completing his 26th year as a manager, Baker finally earned his World Series ring last season as the Astros downed the Philadelphia Phillies. This season, however, the Astros could simply not find a way to win at home when it mattered the most as Texas won all four games in Houston to punch their ticket to their first World Series appearance since 2011.
Before the Astros took on the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS, Baker was asked about his future and he walked around the subject.
"I try to live in the present and look forward,” Baker said then. “I’m grateful to the Lord and (Astros owner) Jim Crane for giving me this opportunity. … It’s been a good marriage here.”
Now, however, it will be hard for Baker to dance around the subject much longer. The Astros will certainly be looking to get back to the World Series, and will have a tough division to once again navigate, with the Rangers and Seattle Mariners planning their own postseason pushes.
In late September, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal wrote in an article for The Athletic (subscription required) that there were already names who could be potential replacements for Baker in Houston for 2024. As he wrote then, "An early exit, however, could prompt owner Jim Crane to move on from Baker, whom he hired in 2020 to lead the Astros out of the sign-stealing scandal."
The early exit came in the ALCS, but the Astros still fell short of their goal of making it back to the World Series. With that in mind, the Astros could change direction in the dugout for 2024.
Note: Shortly after the publication of this article, Rosenthal sent this message out via social media.