Posted on August 10, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Philadelphia Phillies were aggressive before the non-waiver trade deadline and they have remained aggressive after it. On Friday, the Phillies acquired power-hitting first baseman Justin Bour from the Miami Marlins. In exchange for Bour, the Marlins have received left-handed pitching prospect McKenzie Mills.
Bour has been discussed as a possible trade chip for the Marlins since they started their firesale last winter. Last winter may have been a more ideal time to trade him for Miami. Bour had a career year in 2017, hitting .289 with an OPS of .902. His average has taken a dip this season but his power has not. Bour is currently hitting .227 with 19 home runs, helping him post an OPS of .759. With plenty of power and a fair amount of upside, Bour is an intriguing acquisition for the Phillies.
Of course, the Phillies aren’t exactly in dire need for a first baseman. The switch-hitting Carlos Santana has handled those duties for most of the season. However, his numbers have been a little disappointing during his first year in Philadelphia. Santana doesn’t have discernible splits, but he’s been a little less productive against right-handed pitchers. That could open the door for Bour to start when the Phillies face righties. On the season, Bour is hitting .241 with an OPS of .835 against righties, far better than Santana’s numbers.
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It doesn’t seem like that Santana and Bour will form a straight platoon going down the stretch. Of course, having both will help improve Philadelphia’s bench considerably. The Phillies already added to their overall depth by acquiring both infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Wilson Ramos right before the trade deadline. Clearly, the Phillies are leaving no stone unturned in what has become a tight race atop the NL East with both the Braves and Nationals.
Meanwhile, Bour’s long-term future with the Phillies is uncertain. He has three years of arbitration before he can become a free agent. But with both Santana and Rhys Hoskins being options at first base, the Phillies may not view Bour as a part of their future beyond this season. Philadelphia is likely to non-tender or trade him this winter. But that uncertainty over didn’t stop them from giving up a prospect to get him for the stretch run this season.
As for the Marlins, they part ways with another young, controllable position player as part of a massive rebuilding project. Mills is having a solid season in advanced-A ball this year. But he’s not exactly a high-level prospect. The Marlins also don’t have a first base prospect waiting in the wings to take Bour’s spot, so this trade is a little puzzling from their perspective. Miami will likely use Miguel Rojas and Garrett Cooper, who’s currently on the DL, at first base the rest of the season.
Philadelphia’s activity over the past month has shown that they are fully committed to reaching the postseason. As it stands, the Phillies have a one-game lead over the Braves atop the NL East. At first glance, adding Bour may not seem like a major move. However, it gives the Phillies some much-needed power and depth. In such a tight race, the acquisition of Bour could end up being the difference in the NL East this season.