If the Astros are prioritizing an easy transition after Dusty Baker's retirement, there's an obvious in-house hire staring them in the face.
Astros general manager Dana Brown has chosen his desired successor to Baker, and it's a name that's already on everyone's mind.
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Brown is "pushing for" bench coach Joe Espada to replace Baker this offseason.
Espada was hired by Houston after the 2017 season and has since worked his way up to earn the trust of the clubhouse and the front office.
The 48-year-old coach boasts a wealth of diversified experience from serving as a hitting coach for the Marlins' minor league teams to being a special assistant to Yankees' Brian Cashman to accepting his most recent position in Houston.
Astros' easiest, cleanest choice is to promote Joe Espada to manager
Espada has been lauded for his player development skills over the last six years, particularly his work with Astros infielders.
His name has been tossed into a few head coaching hats in past years; he interviewed for the Rangers' managerial vacancy after the 2018 season and for the Cubs' managerial vacancy after the 2019 season.
Back in 2020, Espada briefly took over as interim manager after Houston fired Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch for their involvement in the team's 2017 sign-stealing operation. In 2023, it looks like Espada has his best shot at securing a manager position for a club he knows like the back of his hand.
Promoting an in-house and highly esteemed coach like Espada sounds like the safest choice for the Astros to extend their successful dynasty. He already has Dana Brown in his corner -- now it's a matter of the Astros' front office dotting the "i's" on a future potential contract.