Where do we go from here? These Astros stars might not be back

Veteran Astros' aces Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are also hitting free agency

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Wednesday, November 3, 2021
What's next for Astros after World Series defeat?
Who will stay? Who will go? We know changes are coming to our Astros squad. Here's what we know so far.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Carlos Correa stood on the dugout steps watching as Yuli Gurriel grounded out to end Game 6 of the World Series before slowly walking away and heading into Houston's clubhouse for what could be the last time.

"I was just thinking this is crazy how you spend - and you give your life and everything you have to an organization and then one day you don't belong to the organization anymore just in a matter of seconds," Correa told The Associated Press. "So it's obviously tough to process."

Atlanta's 7-0 victory over the Astros to win the World Series on Tuesday night could mark the end of an era in Houston.

After losing Gerrit Cole and George Springer in free agency the last two years, Houston now faces the distinct possibility that Correa will soon be gone, too.

RELATED: Astros fan launches GoFundMe to pay star shortstop Carlos Correa: 'He's a part of the family'

An emotional Correa spoke to his teammates after the game and later reflected on his many years with the Astros.

"I did everything in my power to make this team a better club, this organization, to keep (moving) in the right way, and I'm proud of my time here," he said.

The star shortstop, who has been with the franchise since he was selected with the first overall draft pick in 2012, is a free agent and there's concern the Astros won't be able to keep him.

"I hope it's not, that it's not over yet," manager Dusty Baker said. "He's a professional. He's a real leader. ... He doesn't give an alibi or any excuses. He just comes out and plays the game the way he's supposed to play it."

Correa had a great season, hitting a career-high 26 homers with 92 RBIs. But perhaps as much as his play, his leadership and swagger has been invaluable to this team since he made his debut and won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2015.

Game 6 of the Series marked his 79th postseason appearance since helping the Astros reach the playoffs for the first time since 2005 in his rookie season.

"I can tell how our guys gravitate towards him," Baker said. "I can tell even how the opposition always shows respect for him, especially when they're around second base. ... He just plays the game the way it should be played."

Correa's future with the team is not the only thing that's uncertain, and we know of at least one person who won't be back.

Here's how else the team can or will look different next season.

Dusty Baker

The future is uncertain at the moment for 72-year-old manager Baker, though there are reports that Astros owner Jim Crane will meet with Baker soon to discuss a contract extension.

Baker was hired on a two-year contract in 2020 in the wake of Houston's sign-stealing scandal that saw their former manager AJ Hinch and former general manager Jeff Luhnow both get fired by the organization.

Baker has spent 24 years in the majors as a manager, but has yet to win a title in that role.

He does have a World Series ring from his time as a Los Angeles Dodger.

With a title as a manager eluding him again, Baker said after his team's Game 6 loss that there's unfinished business when asked by a reporter if he wanted to come back to Houston.

"Yeah because we've still got some unfinished business. I mean I love these guys. I love the town of Houston. The fans are behind us," Baker said.

Though a free agent, Correa expressed that he'd like to see Baker return.

"He's a great manager, great person. Loved playing for him. I loved every single second," Correa said.

Second baseman Jose Altuve agreed, saying, "Yes, absolutely" to having Baker come back.

Brent Strom

He was never on the mound for Houston, but you could argue the Astros' longtime pitching coach Brent Strom had just as much impact as if he were still slinging fastballs himself.

Strom, 73, has been the team's pitching coach since 2014, but announced his run has come to an end. He won't be back next season.

According to ABC13's partners at the Houston Chronicle, Strom first let general manager James Click know of his decision a month ago, when the team was playing in Anaheim, California.

The Chronicle reports that Strom told his pitching staff during the American League Championship series that this would be his last run, but chose to keep the news quiet to avoid being a distraction.

Strom is credited with building the Astros' pitching staff into a powerhouse.

Strom didn't say what exactly would be next for him.

His contract expired after the 2021 season and so did that of third-base coach Gary Pettis, whose future with the ballclub also remains uncertain.

About that pitching staff

Some big name Astros aces are set to become free agents.

That list includes Justin Verlander, who pitched just one game in the last two seasons because of injuries and veteran starter Zack Greinke.

During this postseason, the 38-year-old Greinke only appeared in three games, with two of those being starts.

Who else is up for free agency?

  • RHP Kendall Graveman
  • RHP Yimi Garcia
  • LHP Brooks Raley

About Yuli Gurriel....

Yep, Yuli Gurriel is also on the free agency list, but Astros beat reporter Brian McTaggart said the team has already agreed to pick up his 2022 option.

Gurriel, who was named this year's AL batting champion, actually took a pay cut to stay with Houston, agreeing to a one-year contract that guaranteed $7 million.

According to ESPN, that was a cut of nearly 20% from his 2020 deal.

The Associated Press and ESPN contributed to this report.