The Houston Astros named Dana Brown their new general manager Thursday, choosing the longtime scouting executive to shepherd the team after it let go of former GM James Click, the architect of the 2022 World Series champions.
Brown, 55, served as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves over the past four years, hitting on a number of draft picks. His 2019 draft in particular was a windfall, netting starting center fielder Michael Harris II in the third round, projected shortstop Vaughn Grissom in the 11th round and Shea Langeliers, the centerpiece of Atlanta's trade for Matt Olson, in the first.
"I'm coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,'' Brown said. "We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.''
Welcome to H-Town, Dana Brown! 🤘 pic.twitter.com/IxCZ58AACU— Houston Astros (@astros) January 26, 2023
After interviewing a group that included former Miami GM Michael Hill, former San Francisco GM Bobby Evans and Cleveland assistant GM James Harris, the Astros chose Brown, who is now the only Black GM in the game.
"When we did the complete evaluation, he's the perfect fit for us," owner Jim Crane said.
Chicago White Sox president Kenny Williams is the other Black executive atop a team's baseball operations structure.
"At the end of the day, I think it's good for our sport to have diversity," Brown said. "I'm really excited for this opportunity and especially grateful that Jim Crane took an opportunity to say, 'Hey, I like this guy. I like what he's all about,' and he's rolling with me."
Brown replaces Click, whose contract expired after the Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Negotiations on a new deal for Click fell apart after Crane offered him a one-year deal, which Click rejected.
Click had joined Houston after Crane fired GM Jeff Luhnow in the wake of the team's sign-stealing scandal, stabilizing the organization and adding to the deep talent base Luhnow had built.
Crane served as a de facto general manager early in the winter, negotiating free agent deals for first baseman Jose Abreu and reliever Rafael Montero. He appointed assistant GM Bill Firkus as the baseball operations point person, and the Astros made one more move this winter as they re-signed veteran designated hitter Michael Brantley.
Brown's scouting background aligns with the direction in which Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell, one of Crane's top advisors, wants to take the Astros. Brown's résumé as an evaluator runs well beyond 2019 or his stellar 2020 draft, in which the Braves snagged right-hander Spencer Strider in the fourth round.
"I know there's some special things going on here already and I really want to continue that and extend that long-term," Brown said. "I've been in the game for 33 years. Baseball is all I know. It's my entire life, and so I want to empty myself into this city [and] the Astros fans and let Jim Crane know he made a special pick."
Previously, Brown had worked as a special assistant to Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, whom he followed to Atlanta. They had also worked together in Montreal, where Anthopoulos was a young executive and Brown was the scouting director.
Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.
"It's pretty special,'' Brown said.
Brown doesn't have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. Brown also played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.
Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with manager Dusty Baker, whom he's known for some time.
"Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,'' Brown said. "And so that means I can cut it straight with him.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.