Astros Rumors: What Is Actually Happening With Jeff Bagwell?

American League Championship Series - Workout Day
American League Championship Series - Workout Day / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

What is Jeff Bagwell's role in the Astros front office?

Jeff Bagwell is a franchise icon. There’s a case to be made he’s the best player in franchise history. Depending on your stance on Biggio and Altuve, he’s no lower than third on the list. The 2017 Hall of Fame inductee changed baseball in Houston. 

While Bagwell retired in 2005, he is again the talk of the franchise 18 years later. His playing days are long behind him, so how can that be the case?

Well, for the first time, at least in the eyes of the public, Bagwell appears involved in the front office decisions. 

Takes have ranged from “he’s always done this, but it’s just more visible without a GM in the office,” to “sound the alarm we’re eliminating analytics and going back to baseball in the 1970’s.”

The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but it does beg the question, what exactly is his role? Is he the one calling the shots?

At the recent Fanfest, the Astros GM by committee of Andrew Ball, Charles Cook and Bill Firkus were not made available for public comment. But Bagwell was. And his quotes were rather interesting. 

That’s a lot to say from somebody not involved in the decision making process. Jose Abreu’s recent quote then added fuel to the fire:

"“I have to give thanks to Jim Crane and Jeff Bagwell that gave us the opportunity to be a part of this organization. The players here, their disposition is something pretty great and very much appreciated.”"

Jose Abreu

Thanks to Jeff Bagwell? Yes, he flew to Miami to meet with Abreu, but was that anything more than a sales pitch? As of now, Bagwell’s official role in the front office is not known, which is a bit odd. At last night’s Houston Sports Awards, Jim Crane fueled speculation. 

"He'll be a little more active in the field, I think. He wants to help with the player development & really get that right."

Jim Crane

Helping with player development directly contradicts Abreu, a 35-year-old with nine years in the big leagues, thanking him for the opportunity to play here.

And even if he is just helping with player development, what exactly is there to "get right?" Sure, names like Bregman, McCullers and Tucker were first and second round draft picks. But this team is primarily composed of late round picks and international signings that were developed in house. Altuve, Peña, Alvarez, McCormick, Javier, Brown, Garcia, Urquidy, Abreu (Bryan) and more came up through the Astros’ system. Their player development blows others out of the water. 

In fact, they were all over this recent polling of MLB execs. Only the Dodgers received as many votes in the categories of best at developing pitchers, best at developing hitters, and best at developing “sleeper” prospects. 

I agree James Click probably wasn’t the best fit in Jim Crane’s system. But with six straight ALCS trips, four pennants and two World Series titles, nothing is broken. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, especially in player development. 

Jeff Bagwell is a legend in Houston and always will be.  But what exactly is he doing in the front office? And are we about to see a very, very good thing messed up?