Updated: Jul 10
Editor's note: Bligh Madris is being recalled from AAA for the game tomorrow, 6/23/23. I am going to put updated content in this purple font into this article I gave you all on 1/4/23.
I did a video for my Patron members last night explaining the situation. That video is available to you today. Click on the link in the button.
Yesterday, the Astros traded for Bligh Madris and added him as the 39th member of the Astros 40-man roster. So, the question is who is Bligh Madris?
Madris is in his 27-yr old season in 2023 and plays primarily corner outfield and some 1B. Here are the positions Bligh played in 2022 in the MLB and minors. The data below is games started in 2022.
So, he can play multiple positions, but is he any good?
The answer to that I suppose that depends if you look at the last season and half (2021-2022) of AAA minor league performance or the partial 2022 season of MLB performance.
Here is his MiLB data for 2023 and the projection for this season. You will see the core numbers are similar (but lower), but the run environment is different causing his wRC+ to drop more.
The real answer likely lies somewhere in between. Here is how the projections say Madris will perform in 2023.
Madris is somewhat the definition of what a replacement level major leaguer looks like. His projected performance is basically slightly below league average.
Madris has had multiple stops since late last season.
- 9/13/22- Pittsburgh DFAs Madris
- 9/16/22- Tampa Bay claims Madris- options to AAA Durham
- 11/15/22- Tampa Bay DFAs Madris (day that Rule 5 draft rosters were set)
- 11/18/22- Detroit claims Madris
- 12/21/22- Detroit DFAs Madris
- 1/3/22- Detroit trades Madris to Houston for cash
The clear thing is that Madris is a bubble person on multiple teams. Being the 39th or 40th player on the 40-man roster means when a team gets a better option or signs a player, Madris was the best player to DFA. Because Madris has two options and a favorable minor league history, he can be viewed as a potential development player and potentially the proverbial needle in the haystack.
The wRC+ projection NOW of 84 in 2023 for Madris would not blow anyone away or is it better than the alternatives. Here are wRC+ projections for various other MLB/ MiLB possibilities that play the Madris positions.
I think all seven of the players at the bottom of this list are going to be shuffled in and out until someone proves they belong in the MLB or a trade is made. Players in red font have split time between MLB and AAA. Underlined players will be in the MLB tomorrow.
You might look at this history and ask why the Astros TRADED for a guy that other teams have repeatedly DFAd? Remember that the Astros are at the bottom of the waiver claim list. By paying the Tigers a nominal cost, they were able to get a player that history suggests would be claimed before they could claim him. They paid a small cost to jump ahead in the line. Make sense?
What does this move MEAN?
In short, the Astros are taking a flyer on player that is a borderline major leaguer so far. He is MLB depth at best right now and might not ever really be a valuable MLB player. But he could.
I received a Tweet that basically stated getting Madris "likely closes the book on Yuli Gurriel in an Astros uniform." I am so thankful for my LarryTheGM subscribers and those that engage constructively with me on Twitter and Facebook. So, does this move likely close the book on Yuli Gurriel?
Madris's positional history and minor league history might lead one to REALLY believe Madris could be a 1B/OF utility player. I personally am not convinced that Madris is that player yet, but I REALLY like the Astros taking these kinds of gambles.
Let's also consider the 2023 projection for Gurriel
Madris's projected stats (at age 27) are maybe a notch below Gurriel's (at age 39) with more flexibility to play in the OF.
Which would you REALLY rather have as a utility player in 2023?
This would also be an excellent place to stop and read what I said about Gurriel as a potential utility player here. This will also help make the rest of this article make sense.
CAN Madris make the Astros as a 1B/OF utility option?
So, why Madris NOW you may wonder. I think it may help to think of the current position players in three groups.
Starters (6) - Altuve, Bregman, Tucker, Abreu, Pena, Diaz
Part-time Starters and available PHs (5)- Dubon, Maldonado, Meyers, McCormick, Julks
Defensive Replacements (2)- Kessinger (SS/2B/3B), Madris (1B/RF/LF)- This group rotates with the others above but the two active will always be capable of covering these six fielding positions.
1. I THINK Abreu is going to DH a LOT more now (70-80% until Brantley shows up) with Madris as an available and experienced 1B on the bench.
2. I THINK will be the PRIMARY 1B (50-70%), and backup catcher (30-40%). They will stop DHing him without Salazar.
Note: I scanned the league on the RosterResource page at fangraphs.com. As best as I can tell, only FIVE teams have a third catcher. Many of those have a catcher that is hurting, injured, or returning from the IL.
They COULD have done something similar with Matijevic who is really a 1B that can play LF. Madris gives them more positional flexibility and I think he is believed to be a better fielder but I don't know that for sure.
Remember one of the rules we apply here at LarryTheGM is to pay attention to what teams DO and not what they SAY.
The Astros have signed or acquired these players this offseason- the DO list
- 11/22 Dixon Machado (2B/SS/3B) to MiLB contract
- 11/28 Jose Abreu (1B/DH) as a starter added to 40-man roster
- 12/2 Rylan Bannon (2B/3B) off of waivers- added to 40-man roster
- 12/18 Michael Brantley (LF/DH) as a starter added to 40-man roster
- 1/3 Bligh Madris (1B/OF) added to 40-man roster
I think the Astros are stacking multiple additional options to the existing roster. We will explore more about this as we see it develop during Spring Training. In short, I think Madris and Matijevic compete to be the first option to be called up from the minors at 1B/LF in case of injury. Hensley is the likely the first MLB roster backup option at 1B but if he struggles perhaps Madris gets the call (Underline added in June). The younger OFers in the Astros system are likely to pass Madris in 2023 and be the first option to be called up if an OF is needed. At the start of the season Madris may be the preferred choice,
Given what the Astros have done to stack multiple backup options at 1B, I would be shocked if they signed Gurriel. Therefore, perhaps the Madris signing does unofficially close that chapter in Astros history.
Please let me know what you think.
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