World Series champion Astros hold off on White House talk

Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch answers questions before Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Houston. (Eric Gay/AP)

HOUSTON — The World Series champion Houston Astros have not made the decision yet on whether they will visit the White House to meet with President Donald Trump if an invitation is extended.

"We just won the first world championship in Houston Astros history," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said shortly before the team left for a celebratory parade through downtown Houston on Friday. "We’re also in one of the most divided countries, polarizing countries in politics. I don’t know that this is the best stage for everybody to declare one way or the other and try to comment on the moment and be too much of a political statement."

The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Penguins and Clemson Tigers have all visited the White House in recent months to be congratulated by the president for their titles. The Golden State Warriors did not make the trip after being disinvited by Trump. The president has been outspoken for weeks about his opposition to players kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustices.

Following the Astros’ 5-1 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 on Wednesday night, Trump tweeted his congratulations to the team.

Hinch said he believes that the Astros should savour their accomplishment, but a decision on a White House visit would need to wait.

"What comes out of this moving forward on the political side or what we do or don’t do or what sports has turned into, to kind of representing the country’s tone — that’ll be decided in time," he said. "We’re not going to allow anything to polarize this moment that we want to celebrate with our fans."

World Series MVP George Springer said his grandfather worked in Washington for years and he has respect for what a visit to the White House would mean.

"That’s the most historic place in our country, it stands for a lot, it means a lot to a lot of people," Springer said. "If the team goes I’m going. I’m not going to say no. I understand the impact of it. … I understand the stuff that’s been happening. Yes there are things that have to change but there are always things that have to change. There isn’t anything that is ever going to be perfect. If the team goes I’ll go."

Also on Friday, general manager Jeff Luhnow said the team had exercised the options of All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve and utility man Marwin Gonzalez. Altuve’s option is for $6 million and Gonzalez’s for $5,125,000.

Altuve led the majors with a .346 average and hit 24 homers with 81 RBIs. Gonzalez batted .303 with 23 homers and a team-leading 90 RBIs.

Houston also has a 2019 option on Altuve for $6.5 million.

The Astros also agreed to terms with New York Yankees third base coach Joe Espada to replace Alex Cora as bench coach. Cora was hired to manage the Boston Red Sox.