The Rays will never know exactly how much the Astros cheating scandal impacted them on the field. But now it cost them a top executive.
Vice president James Click was hired Monday as Houston’s general manager, replacing the fired Jeff Luhnow.
Click, 42, had been given expanded duties with the Rays earlier this offseason as one of three executives elevated to replace senior vice president Chaim Bloom, who was hired to take over the Red Sox. Now Click gets an unexpected opportunity to run his own team, where he will join newly hired veteran manager Dusty Baker to try to move the defending American League champs past the scandal.
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg seemed frustrated by the latest loss, though resolute that the team can deal with it under the leadership of general manager Erik Neander.
“We wish James and his family well, and we thank him for his 15 years of great work with our organization,” Sternberg said in a statement. "The departure of another talented, senior Rays executive is difficult. That difficulty is compounded by the timing of the departure, only days from the opening of spring training.
"A large number of former Rays staffers now populate senior team positions across the league. Most recently, two of the past three World Series winning teams, against whom we compete directly, have reached beyond their organizations and into our ranks to fill their top baseball operations positions. We have great organizational leadership, strong faith in our ability to regenerate, and we have supreme confidence in the men and women who will be stepping up into their newfound opportunities and responsibilities. That is the Rays way. It is who we are, it is what we do.”
Click, 42, joined the Rays in 2005 as an intern to help build a database for new baseball operations chief Andrew Friedman. Click got hired full time in 2006, and the Yale history major has worked his way up to vice president of baseball operations. He has a hand in all facets of the operation, including systems, research and development, logistics, player evaluation, contract negotiations and more.
Astros owner Jim Crane said Click was a good fit in many ways.
“James has had an impressive career,” Crane said in a statement. “He is a respected leader who has progressed in this game across all aspects of baseball operations and he has built great relationships with both front office and clubhouse personnel. I am thrilled to introduce him as our new general manager — he is a great addition to the Astros.”
Click, who will be formally introduced at a Tuesday media conference, was understandably pleased about getting the job.
“I am excited to join the Astros family,” he said in a statement from the team. “The Astros are a progressive and innovative organization with a deeply talented group in the front office. I am grateful to Jim Crane and the Astros for giving me this opportunity to help lead this team to more championships.”
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Carlos Rodriguez and Peter Bendix are the two other vice presidents who work directly under Neander.