Justin Verlander, Yuli Gurriel, Dusty Baker may not return to Astros after World Series win

Michael Brantley also has an expiring deal, which could shift Yordan Alvarez to left field full time.

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Sunday, November 6, 2022
Dusty Baker reflects on Astro's World Series win
Baker talks about his family and his first World Series win as manager in a post game interview

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The joy of winning a World Series championship is irreplaceable, but the Houston Astros may have to do some replacing of their own in the coming months.

As is customary every MLB offseason, a slew of players who won a world championship in 2022 with the 'Stros may have to leave H-Town on an expiring deal or a contract option.

The video above is from Nov. 5, 2022, after the World Series victory.

Here are the different Houston Astros who may find homes elsewhere unless their incumbent club strikes a deal to keep them, according to Baseball Reference:

Justin Verlander

JV famously re-signed with the Astros last offseason on a two-year, $50 million deal, including a player option for the second year. In context, the contract seemed low for someone of Verlander's pedigree, but coming off Tommy John surgery and a long layoff, both JV and the Astros took a bet on whether that Cy Young Award-winning magic was still there. Needless to say, both sides are seeing that bet pay off in spades. Verlander is about to win his third Cy Young Award after defying the odds and age to get back to his prime form. In the process, he rebuilt his value and may stand to earn more money next year. He is likely to opt out of his $25 million player option for 2023 to become a free agent. For 'Stros fans, though, parting with JV will be a bitter pill to swallow. Here's hoping Jim Crane can open the vault and make an offer that will lead to him retiring as an Astro.

Michael Brantley

The 35-year-old left fielder joined the Astros in 2019 and re-signed with the team in 2021 for two more seasons. He was a sorely missed offensive tool after he was lost for the rest of 2022 after shoulder surgery. The Astros could bring him back if a lower price is reached. Otherwise, Uncle Mike, who holds durability concerns, might look for a suitor who can pay him closer to the $16 million he earned in 2022.

Yuli Gurriel

Gurriel, 38, is arguably the heart and soul of the Astros since his arrival in 2016. He became the cover model of Houston's reputation as an international recruiting and developmental system. Could he be seen as expendable despite winning a Gold Glove, a batting title, and two championships in Houston? He earned $8 million in 2022.

Jason Castro, Martin Maldonado and Christian Vazquez

Deals have expired for the trusty tripod of Houston catchers. Vazquez, in particular, earned the most out of the three this past year at $7 million. Castro is the least likely to be retained. Vazquez and Maldonado seemed to have the best rapport with the pitching staff, and they've been seen just as integral to their success more than anyone else. For general manager James Click, the challenge is whether it would make sense fiscally to bring back both Maldy and Vazquez.

Trey Mancini

Acquired during the same trade deadline day in 2022 as Vazquez, Mancini has a $10 million mutual option. Mancini is still serviceable as a first baseman/leftfielder despite a quiet postseason. If Gurriel finds his way out of Houston, the Astros may have to hold on to Mancini to shore up first base.

Rafael Montero, Will Smith, and Aledmys Diaz

Montero, who was a 2021 midseason acquisition, became part of the lights-out bullpen that was among the best in the majors. He raised his value after an impressive season of late-inning relief. Will Smith, a left-handed reliever who was a deadline acquisition in 2022, has a $13 million club option, which means the Astros may or may not retain him in 2023. Aledmys Diaz, who became the key utility replacement for Brantley and others, earned close to $5 million in 2022. Of the three, Montero may have the best chance to remain in Houston.

Dusty Baker

The newly-minted, 73-year-old world champion manager is officially no longer under contract, but his goodwill to the club and to Houston should be good enough to win him another contract if he's open to coming back for one more run. With that said, nearly 30 years of managerial experience and a newly-won championship should be all the reason to go out on top. And if that's the case, the Astros would be in search of their next skipper. Perhaps a promotion from within? Joe Espada? Gary Pettis?

James Click

Click's arrival as the general manager marked owner Jim Crane's attempt to turn the page from scandal. So far, Click has done the job admirably for a front office that could do no wrong in asset management, development, and acquisition. Our partners at the Houston Chronicle reported earlier this year that Click's contract expires following the 2022 season.