Durham native, former Rays and Bulls exec Click named Astros’ GM

An Astros batting helmet is seen in the on-deck circle during last season. (Jeff Roberson / AP Photo)

HOUSTON — The Houston Astros hired James Click as their new general manager Monday, taking the Tampa Bay Rays executive and putting him in charge of the scandal-ridden team a week before the start of spring training.

Click succeeds Jeff Luhnow, who along with manager AJ Hinch was suspended by Major League Baseball in the wake of a sign-stealing scam and then fired by the Astros.

The AL champion Astros hired Dusty Baker last week as manager.

Astros owner Jim Crane announced the hiring of Click, who spent the last three seasons as the Rays’ vice president of baseball operations. The 42-year-old Click, a native of Durham,  worked with the Bulls  — the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate — during parts of his 14 seasons in the Tampa Bay organization.

“I am excited to join the Astros family,” Click said in a statement. “The Astros are a progressive and innovative organization with a deeply talented group in the front office.”

Click was to be formally introduced by the Astros at a news conference on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

“James has had an impressive career,” Crane said in a statement. “He is a respected leader who has progressed in this game across all aspects of baseball operations and he has built great relationships with both front office and clubhouse personnel.”