It's a long way from job offered and job accepted, but the Astros on Tuesday obtained permission from Tampa Bay to speak with general manager Andrew Friedman, sources with knowledge of the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com.
New Astros owner Jim Crane, wasting no time after a firing GM Ed Wade and president of baseball operations Tal Smith, is setting his sights on the man widely considered to be one of the top executives in the game. That Friedman is only 35 and is a Houston native are both happy coincidences -- and, as for Friedman's hometown, one huge chip the Astros apparently hope they can cash in.
With Friedman in the GM's seat, Tampa Bay has won two AL East titles in the past four seasons. The Rays also earned an American League wild-card berth another of those years. The Red Sox, by comparison, have won only one AL East title in the past 16 seasons.
Friedman also spoke with the Angels earlier this winter, though he never reached the point where he waded too deeply into the interview process in either place. He absolutely loves his situation in Tampa Bay with owner Stuart Sternberg, club president Matt Silverman and manager Joe Maddon, according to multiple sources, and is not looking to leave.
Whether the pull of his hometown Astros would be enough will be determined in the near future, though sources indicate that it still would be a surprise if Friedman does leave his current situation. With the baseball winter meetings convening next week in Dallas, Houston is looking to move quickly -- though the Astros almost certainly will not have a new man on the job by then.
News that the Astros have obtained permission from the Rays to speak with Friedman was first reported by Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice.