Within hours of the announcement, the elder Ryan, who had worked for the Astros as an executive adviser to Jim Crane for the past six years, abruptly left the organization, saying in a text message to KRIV (Fox 26) in Houston, “I will not be back with the club and will leave it at that.”
The moves came just two weeks after the Astros fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for his vulgar and aggressive outburst toward a group of female reporters five days earlier in the Astros’ clubhouse, as the team was celebrating the clinching of the American League pennant.
The Taubman controversy, made worse by the team’s bungled response to the initial story about the incident by Sports Illustrated, played out against the backdrop of the World Series, with the firing coming on the travel day between Games 2 and 3. The Astros went on to lose the series to the Washington Nationals in seven games.
Thursday’s news of major changes in the Astros’ business-side structure comes as Major League Baseball continues to investigate the team’s handling of the Taubman incident, particularly the initial statement in the wake of the SI story, which accused the reporter of trying to “fabricate” a story. The team later softened its stance and apologized, but it took six days before Crane formally retracted the statement, and the team has not revealed who wrote or approved it.
The MLB investigation, which is expected to be wrapped up by the end of the month, has focused on the origins of that statement. The investigation is likely to result in a significant fine for the organization, although a stronger penalty, such as the loss of draft picks, has not been ruled out.
The timing of Thursday’s announcement has led to widespread speculation it was part of the fallout from the Taubman incident, but the Astros said the two were unrelated — and MLB officials believe that to be true, with the change at the team president level having been in the works before the incident occurred. One league source said Reid Ryan is not believed to have been involved in the drafting or oversight of the statement at the center of MLB’s investigation.
Instead, the ascension of Jared Crane to the team president appears to be part of a long-range, ownership-succession plan for the franchise.
“I’m not a spring chicken,” Jim Crane told The Houston Chronicle. “ … I’m building a succession plan. [MLB] requires a plan in place for each team, so we’re doing that and planning for the family. It has nothing to do with Reid.”
In a statement, Reid Ryan said, “While my role has changed, I will remain with the Astros and look forward to another great season in 2020.”
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