Still to be determined is what kind of a closer new Astros owner Jim Crane is, but in looking to fill his club's general manager vacancy, he's off to a rousing start.
One day after obtaining permission from Tampa Bay to speak with Andrew Friedman, the Astros on Tuesday were granted permission by the Rangers to speak with highly respected Thad Levine, assistant general manager to Jon Daniels, according to sources.
Friedman and Daniels are two of the brightest GMs in the game. Levine, in working under Daniels, has built a reputation as one of the smartest and most promising young executives in the game.
With Friedman in the GM's seat, Tampa Bay has won two AL East titles in the past four seasons and earned a wild-card berth in a third. 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. He 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 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.
Levine has been one of Daniels' top assistants for the past six seasons. Before that, he spent six seasons in the Colorado Rockies' organization serving as senior director of baseball operations in 2005.