Earlier today, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported that the Astros have at least three finalists for their GM vacancy: Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown, Guardians assistant GM James Harris and former Giants GM Bobby Evans. That’s not an exhaustive list, however, and Jose de Jesus Ortiz of Our Esquina tweets that former Astros catcher, Tigers/Angels manager and (most recently) A’s bench Brad Ausmus is also among the finalists. Per Ortiz, Brown and Ausmus are the two favorites for the job.
Jumping straight into the GM’s chair would be a first for Ausmus, though it wouldn’t be his first stint in a big league front office. Ausmus was a special assistant in the Padres’ front office shortly after retiring as a player, and he held a similar role with the 2018 Angels under then-general manager Billy Eppler.
Since retiring, however, the bulk of Ausmus’ experience in the game has come in a big league dugout. That includes a four-year stint as the Tigers’ manager from 2014-17 and a 2019 run as the Angels’ skipper. He spent the 2022 campaign as the bench coach under newly hired A’s skipper Mark Kotsay, but Ausmus turned down an offer from the team to return for a second season in that position. Ausmus’ decision to decline that offer came just a week before ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Ausmus traveled to Houston to meet with former teammate Jeff Bagwell, who’s been a key advisor to owner Jim Crane and has held some sway in the team’s baseball operations decisions.
At the same time, there are renewed connections with now-former Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns, who served as an assistant GM in Houston before being hired as the GM in Milwaukee more than a half decade ago. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes that Crane has maintained some interest in bringing Stearns back to Houston.
As has been the case each time Stearns has been rumored as a potential fit for another front office vacancy — the Mets courted him in two separate offseasons, for instance — there are notable caveats to consider. While Stearns stepped down as president in Milwaukee, he remains under contract with the Brewers through the end of the 2023 season. He’s no longer running baseball operations but remains an advisor to newly minted GM Matt Arnold and owner Mark Attanasio.
Furthermore, Stearns appeared at the Brewers’ press conference to announce the reshuffling of the baseball operations hierarchy and plainly declared that he was “not going anywhere” and planned to remain in Milwaukee. That was several months ago, of course, and Stearns didn’t place a definitive timeline on a return to baseball operations — or even whether he planned to pursue such opportunities at all. However, because he’s under contract, the Brewers would need to grant the Astros permission to interview him, and Milwaukee may even require player compensation if Stearns were to depart prior to the conclusion of his contract.
The Astros have operated without a GM this offseason after parting ways with World Series-winning GM James Click following the season. Click rejected what many viewed as a token one-year extension offer that came on the heels of myriad reports about mounting friction between the GM and Crane.