Dusty Baker gets contract from Houston Astros for 2022

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Dusty Baker will return as manager of the Houston Astros for a third season after agreeing to a one-year contract with the AL champions.

Baker took over from AJ Hinch, who was suspended by MLB for his role in the team’s sign stealing and then fired. The Astros lost to Tampa Bay in the 2020 AL Championship Series and to Atlanta in this year’s six-game World Series.

“We have an exciting future here — and present,” Baker said Friday. “I just had some unfinished business to take care of, but we’re close. We’re getting better every year.”

The 72-year-old Baker has never won a World Series title as a manager. He has 1,987 regular-season wins as a manager.

Baker said he has enjoyed his time in Houston, even adapting to the team’s focus on analytics.

“I was talking to some of our sabermetrics guys, and I said, `Hey, I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks,’ and they said, `Depends on the dog,”‘ Baker said with a grin. “That was a compliment, I guess.”

Owner Jim Crane said he expects the team’s payroll to be near the luxury tax level and possibly above. Negotiations between Major League Baseball and the players’ association are ongoing to set rules for after Dec. 1.

“If we have to make a move to compete and close out something, we’ve always done that,” Crane said. “We’ve got the resources because we’ve got great support from the city. Our goal is to win championships and put the best team on the field that we can.”

Shortstop Carlos Correa became a free agent on Wednesday.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get something done.” Crane said.

“Carlos Correa has been a huge part of this organization, and we are going to put our best foot forward to try to make sure that continues,” general manager James Click said. “But the nature of free agency is, there are 30 teams out there, and Carlos is going to make the best decision for him and his family. We obviously hope that’s Houston, and we are going to put our best foot forward, but we have to be responsible for the team and make sure we’re putting a winning team out there.”

Click said he hopes Baker’s coaching staff will return, except for pitching coach Brent Strom, who is retiring after eight seasons.

“We had talked about it earlier in the year last year, but I urged him to put all of his efforts into this year and not think about the end until the end came,” Baker said.

Baker said he believes assistant pitching coaches Bill Murphy and Josh Miller are ready to take the next steps in their careers and could be leading candidates to replace Strom.

Among Houston’s other key free agents are Justin Verlander, who pitched just one game in the last two seasons because of injuries, and Zack Greinke.

AP source: Nimmo staying with Mets on $162M, 8-year deal

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – Center fielder Brandon Nimmo is staying with the free-spending New York Mets, agreeing to a $162 million, eight-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the agreement is subject to a successful physical and no announcement had been made.

A quality leadoff hitter with an excellent eye and a .385 career on-base percentage, Nimmo became a free agent last month for the first time. He was a key performer as the Mets returned to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2016.

The left-handed hitter batted .274 with 16 homers and a team-high 102 runs, a career high. He also set career bests with 64 RBIs and 151 games played. His seven triples tied for most in the National League.

Bringing back Nimmo means New York is poised to return its entire everyday lineup intact from a team that tied for fifth in the majors in runs and won 101 regular-season games – second-most in franchise history.

But the Mets remain busy replenishing a pitching staff gutted by free agency, including Jacob deGrom‘s departure for Texas and Taijuan Walker‘s deal with Philadelphia that was pending a physical.

On the final day of baseball’s winter meetings Wednesday, the Mets completed an $86.7 million, two-year contract with former Houston ace Justin Verlander that includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. New York also retained All-Star closer Edwin Diaz last month with a $102 million, five-year contract, and the team has a $26 million, two-year agreement in place with veteran starter Jose Quintana, pending a physical.

Those moves add to a payroll that was the largest in the majors last season. Under owner Steve Cohen, who bought the Mets in November 2020, New York became baseball’s biggest spender this year for the first time since 1989. The Mets’ payroll was $273.9 million as of Aug. 31, with final figures that include bonuses yet to be compiled.

Nimmo was selected by New York with the No. 13 pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He declined a $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Mets last month.

The 29-year-old Wyoming native made his big league debut in 2016. He is a .269 career hitter with 63 homers, 213 RBIs and 23 triples in 608 games. He has an .827 career OPS and has improved his play in center, becoming a solid defender.

Nimmo’s new deal with the Mets was first reported by the New York Post.