Astros free agency tracker: Who from the 2022 World Series team has departed Houston?

Justin Verlander headlines the exits from H-Town, but who else followed him out the door?

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Saturday, December 17, 2022
Astros' future after GM's ouster now firmly in Jim Crane's control
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Astros owner Jim Crane admits he's "never satisfied" and can be demanding of his employees. Where does that leave the defending World Series champs in their pursuit of free agents like Justin Verlander?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Building a World Series-winning team is a difficult task for any Major League Baseball club. It's maintaining that excellence that might be the hardest thing to do.

The Houston Astros finally got the stigma of the sign-stealing scandal off their backs with the second-ever championship that alluded them during the last two World Series they played in before 2022.

While the 'Stros and every other team in MLB go through the paces of the offseason, including reloading their roster, it's hard to ignore the departures of people who contributed to a championship.

The video above is on owner Jim Crane taking over free-agent negotiations in the offseason.

First off, Astros fans can take some consolation in knowing that every coach who guided the players on the field during the championship run is coming back. After field manager Dusty Baker signed on for at least one more year, all the other pieces of his dugout began to fall. Gary Pettis, Alex Cintron, Joe Espada, and company are back for the ride.

And fans can take joy in bringing back a shut-down reliever like Rafael Montero, or poaching an All-Star infielder away from Chicago, like Jose Abreu's signing.

So here are the members of the team who are indeed heading out of H-Town after the World Series, as of Dec. 16:

Justin Verlander: Let's start with the biggest departure. The soon-to-be 40-year-old superstar's renaissance during his last year in Houston is a story that can be passed down to generations of Astros fans to come. What may be omitted is how he moved on. JV, who returned to the 'Stros last offseason on a one-year, $25 million deal fit for a veteran coming off of a major surgery and layoff, got the big-money contract he wanted by signing a two-year pact for $86 million. Some fans recognize that Verlander's subtraction won't necessarily hurt Houston's starting rotation, especially when there are studs like Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier putting up outings comparable to JV's. Also, the club is getting value from these youngsters. Would JV remaining in Houston work? Sure. But will his exit hurt? That's to be determined.

SEE MORE: Star pitcher Justin Verlander heading to Big Apple to play for New York Mets

Christian Vazquez: The two-time World Series-winning catcher - he won one in 2018 with Boston - was a refreshing presence in the Astros' clubhouse after Houston acquired him at the deadline. While he split time with Martin Maldonado, whom many on the pitching staff have a consistent rapport with, Vazquez proved he could also call games on par with his platoon mate. Vazquez, whose deal expired after 2022, was seeking an everyday catching role, and he got it with the Minnesota Twins despite the Astros' pursuit of his services.

SEE MORE: Free-agent catcher Christian Vazquez moving on with Minnesota after playing 41 games in Houston

Aledmys Diaz: Dusty Baker leaned on Diaz as the utility piece needed when stars like Michael Brantley went down with an injury. He played in 92 games, hit 25 extra-base hits, and drove in 38 runs during 2022. The Cuban-born Diaz, though, was virtually silent in the postseason, recording just one hit in eight games. Diaz is staying in the division. He signed a free-agent deal with the Oakland Athletics.

Jason Castro: Castro the Astro was limited in 2022 but played in 34 games at the catcher position and pinch-hitter. The 36-year-old became a free agent after this season but decided to retire altogether after 12 MLB seasons and one World Series title.

SEE MORE: Houston catcher Jason Castro retires as an Astro

James Click: Only reports describe owner Jim Crane's split with his former general manager as acrimonious. But, Click was the man at the helm, pulling the trigger on post-scandal personnel moves. ABC13 learned Crane is taking up negotiations this offseason, with advisors like Jeff Bagwell and Reggie Jackson by his side. So far, Crane has just the two big-splash signings - Montero and Abreu - to his name.

SEE MORE: Houston Astros part ways with GM James Click nearly a week after Astros won 2nd World Series title

As of this writing, the fates of a handful of Astros free agents remain unclear, including fan favorites Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel. In addition, the Astros declined options for Trey Mancini and Will Smith, who were both acquired midseason in 2022. Houston also declined to tender a contract for pitcher Josh James, who played in just five games of 2022 before spending the balance of the season on the injured list.