By Sam Bush
Ex-Nats manager Dusty Baker has been hired as the new manager of the Houston Astros on a one-year deal and includes a team option for the 2021 season.
Baker will be formally introduced by the team at Minute Maid Park today
Baker, 70, becomes the oldest manager in the major leagues. Having last managed the Nationals in 2017, he ranks 15th in career wins with a 1,863-1,636 record over 22 seasons. He guided the San Francisco Giants to the National League pennant in 2002.
Since 2018, Baker, a three-time NL Manager of the Year, has served as a special adviser to Giants CEO Larry Baer, working in both the baseball and business operations of the club.
“I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity,” Baker said in a statement. “This is a great ballclub with outstanding players that know how to win. I applaud Jim Crane for the leadership he has shown in recent weeks and look forward to working with him and the players to bring a championship to the city of Houston.”
Baker will replace AJ Hinch, who was fired along with general manager Jeff Luhnow on Jan. 13, following Major League Baseball’s findings that the team illicitly used electronics to steal signs during its run to the 2017 World Series championship and again during the 2018 season.
Prior to being fired, Hinch and Luhnow were suspended for a season as a result of MLB’s investigation. The team was also fined $5 million and forced to forfeit four draft picks within the first two rounds of the next two drafts.
The investigation by MLB determined the Astros used a center-field camera for real-time video of catchers’ signs and subsequently banged a trash can to alert their hitters of incoming pitches, confirming comments made by pitcher Mike Fiers to The Athletic a few months earlier.
The sign-stealing practice — which also included the more conventional method of using the video replay room to decode signs and relay them to a runner on second base — extended into the 2017 postseason, when the Astros ultimately defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series.