Dusty Baker is headed back to the World Series, after the veteran manager’s Astros triumphed over the Red Sox in the ALCS. This is the sixth time Baker has been part of the Fall Classic as a player (winning with the Dodgers in 1981), coach and manager, and he is the ninth manager to lead both an American League and a National League team to a league pennant. While capping off his managerial career with a championship would seem like a storybook ending, Baker isn’t planning to retire even if the Astros win it all, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
Back in December, Baker was somewhat non-committal about his future with Houston, saying “Depends how I feel. Depends on how the team feels about me….You never know what changes are going to come about in life.” More recently, however, Baker has stated that he does want to keep managing into 2022 and perhaps beyond. Rosenthal writes that Baker would love to collect the 13 more regular-season victories he needs to reach 2,000 wins for his managerial career, and obviously Baker has interest in helping guide the Astros to another run at the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2022.
Baker’s contract with the Astros is up after the season, as he was originally signed to a one-year deal with a 2021 club option year. Both Baker and team management have indicated that they will hold off on negotiations until after the year, but the skipper has a pretty notable supporter in Astros owner Jim Crane. Talking with Fox 26’s Mark Berman, Crane reiterated that the two sides will talk after the playoffs are over, but said “Dusty deserves another shot for next year. We’ll see where it goes.”
Given all of the success Baker has enjoyed in his two seasons in Houston, it would count as a surprise at this point if the 72-year-old isn’t back on the bench next season. That said, there wasn’t much normal about the circumstances of Baker’s hiring in the first place, as the veteran skipper was brought on to replace the fired A.J. Hinch in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal. Crane personally hired Baker as manager even before the hiring of new general manager James Click, and most GMs would prefer to have their own managerial hire in place. Crane would obviously have the final say-so if he made a point of retaining Baker, but the owner has said that he and Click will mutually decide on Baker’s future.