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The Houston Astros are in an unusual position. They are the defending World Series champions and will again be on the short list of World Series contenders heading into 2023, yet they don't have a general manager. The Astros and GM James Click parted ways in November after Click turned down a one-year contract extension.

Owner Jim Crane and assistant GMs Andrew Ball, Charles Cook, and Bill Firkus have handled the club's decision-making duties this offseason, most notably signing José Abreu, re-signing Michael Brantley, and allowing AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander to leave as a free agent. At some point, the Astros are expected to hire a new GM. It just hasn't happened yet.

Wednesday night at the Houston Sports Awards, Crane told he has "interviewed a lot of people" for the GM job, though he has not yet asked the Milwaukee Brewers for permission to interview David Stearns. Stearns, who has one year left on his contract, stepped down as president of baseball operations in October and moved into an advisory role.

Stearns has Astros ties -- he worked in Houston's from office from 2013-15 -- though it's unclear whether he has interest in rejoining the club. The New York Mets have been denied permission to interview Stearns (a New York native) in the past, though no permission will be necessary after 2023. Stearns may want to see what Mets owner Steve Cohen offers before jumping into anything.

The Astros have reportedly shown interest in Atlanta Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown and former Astros player Brad Ausmus for the GM role, among others. Click has not yet joined a new team, though obviously he won't return to Houston. Crane offered his World Series winning GM an insulting one-year extension, an offer made to be rejected.

Seeing how Crane & Co. have now gone almost an entire offseason without a GM, they're clearly in no rush to make a hire. Things will get hectic once spring training and the regular season begin, however, and they presumably will want a GM to run point on the day-to-day operations once players retake the field. Until then, Crane is running the show and interviewing candidates.