The Marlins are now mathematically eliminated from the 2017 postseason, not that there was much suspense these last few weeks anyways.
However, with new ownership taking over in less than a month, the future nucleus of this team takes on a new urgency heading into the offseason. Who stays, who goes, and of course, which players will the Marlins’ front-office choose to invest in for 2018 and beyond.
We have already identified core pieces for the Fish going forward: J.T. Realmuto, Marcell Ozuna and Jose Urena are all no-brainers. The next player on our wish list, and equally deserving, is Justin Bour.
A Little Background
Justin Bour, the Washington, D.C. native played both football and baseball at Westfiled high school in Virginia. He played defensive tackle through his junior year at the same high school that produced NFL players Eddie Royal and Mike Glennon.
But, Bour turned his focus solely to baseball his senior year. He played first base and pitched, winning first-team All-Met Honors. From there, Bour went on to George Mason University where he slugged 46 home runs, had 187 RBIs and hit .347 over three seasons while striking out in only 15.5 percent of his at-bats.
In 2009 Bour was drafted in the 25th round by the Chicago Cubs. In an interview with the Miami Herald in 2015, he recalled that he was supposed to get taken in the fifth round or the 12th, at the very latest, and was shocked at how far he fell. To his credit, he chalked it up to a learning experience and headed off to begin his pro career in Arizona League Rookie Ball.
Bour spent the next five years moving through the Cubs minor league system and by 2013 was in Double-A ball playing in the Southern League for the Tennessee Smokies. The 25-year-old Bour played in 89 games that year, hitting only .237, but flashing his power by hitting 18 home runs. The only teammates he trailed were future MLB players Javier Baez and Christian Villanueva, with 20 and 19 bombs respectively.
Fate intervened that winter and the Marlins were able to scoop up Bour in the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 draft, as he was no longer protected by the Cubs. I bet Theo Epstein would like a do-over on that one. Bour made his major league debut with the Fish in June the following year.
While Bour has yet to play over 129 games in a single season and injuries have certainly plagued him the last two years, his offensive production has been steadily on the rise. In the last three years with Miami, Bour’s batting average has gone from .262 to .296, his OPS has jumped from .800 to .929, and his oWAR from 1.0 to 2.6. He has also hit a career high in home runs this year with 24 dingers.
Bour is also a solid defender, having committed only one error in 726 chances this year. Clearly the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Bour is hitting his stride with Miami at the prime baseball age of 29.
Financially, the news gets even better for the Marlins. While Bour currently makes $552,500 and will be in line for a much-deserved raise in 2018, it will only be his first arbitration-eligible year. The Marlins will have control over Bour for the next three years as he is not scheduled to hit free agency until 2021.
Sometimes the best move an organization can make is to do nothing. It was only 2 1⁄2 months ago that the NY Post and Miami Herald reported that the Yankees had strong interest in acquiring the power-hitting Bour. Fortunately, the soon to be ex-front office “Brian Trust” did not take the bait and Bour remains a Miami Marlin for the foreseeable future, representing a solid piece of the Marlins future nucleus.