Trade Tactics is a weekly series covering 2018 trade candidates on the Miami Marlins and their potential destinations. We cover each player by completing a breakdown of the player skills and his strengths and weaknesses. We also identify potential trade sites and reasonable trades that could be completed with those teams.
Painful as it sometimes is to lose recognizable players, our hope is that you enjoy this upcoming time period and the moves that allow this franchise evolve into a world championship contender. Please include your comments and potential trade ideas as its great to hear from the fans as well.
Exhibit C: Justin Bour
Justin Bour has earned every bit of his major league baseball career. Justin started out as a 25th round pick of the Chicago Cubs. He mysteriously surfaced on the 2014 Marlins roster after being selected in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft and made a mild but noticeable impact after showing that he was clearly a talent by posting .306/.372/.517 line in Triple-A. Power was a known commodity when he was selected but in his first major league opportunity, he also batted .284/.361/.365, surprising evaluators with his batting prowess.
The power inevitably came. In extended opportunities in 2015, Justin batted .262/.321/.479 and hit 23 HR and 73 RBI in 446 AB. Over the next two seasons, Justin averaged 20 HR and 67 RBI and a .275/.357/.506. The factor that has held him back the most has been his inability to stay healthy for the duration of a season (career high of 129 games). It has prevented him from attaining more impressive overall production.
These injuries along with his age—30 years old—are a sign that the Marlins should consider a trade while there’s still hope of receiving viable major league regulars in return. Bour is a fun yet focused teammate who would fit in well with a contender regardless of his role on and off the field.
Current Tool Grades
Justin is a reliable major league first baseman. The number one trait that you notice when you see him is his power and it’s BIG. He can hit the ball out to all parts of the park, whereas most power hitters are pull-conscious and have shift vulnerability (theres a smattering of that with him).
Bour will hit the ball where it is pitched. His spray chart shows a balanced hitter in every sense of the word with his 14 homers almost equally distributed out the park form left to right field. This distribution can also be seen in his line drives.
As I mentioned before, his profile is a little abnormal for a power hitter, but this makes him immensely valuable. Particularly in the playoffs, finding a player that can be an above-average hitter for average and power is imperative.
His strike zone management is my favorite aspect of his hit tool as he commonly doesn’t expand the zone (though he has this year) and he takes his walks. His BB% is annually over 10%—personal best 16.5% this season—and his K% is close enough to 20% that there is no cause for concern. Typically, anything in the 20s is cause for concern, but with such a balanced walk rate, the negative impact of his strikeouts are diminished to some degree. Even in this pressurized season as the Marlins’ main power hitter, he has remained disciplined and will likely improve upon his .235 average.
From a fielding perspective, he is as sure-handed as you can find. His highest error total in any season is six and his annual fielding percentage is .993 or higher. He shows great feet and surprising agility for a guy his size. It is rare that big burly first baseman are NOT a liability for their team, but he actually adds value by enhancing team defense. He does an excellent job of positioning himself in advantageous ways to minimize any physical deficiencies. He takes almost perfect angles to field the ball. He also possesses a very strong throwing arm, which allows him to make all the throws necessary at the position. Essentially, he is not confined to the DH role as most would assume at first glance.
Bour has few weaknesses, but they are consistent and should be acknowledged.
He has a tendency to hit ground balls at a very high rate and his hard-hit rates are only average. This occurs because of his size and his inability to cover the inside half consistently. He can be jammed and will rarely make the adjustment to cover that inside half. Because of his disciplined approach, he essentially dares pitchers to pound him inside and make that pitch consistently. This season, pitchers have done that successfully, but I also think that he is more tentative to this pitch knowing his role on the team as a run producer.
He also has limited range at first base. There will be instances where the range will hurt him, particularly on base hits in the 4-3 hole.
His last weakness is his durability. This is the one that I believe he cannot rectify at this time as he is advanced in his career and only with a supreme commitment to changing his physique will he be able to potentially improve. Heavy position players wear down fast.
Potential Trade Destinations: Yankees
The Yankees have committed to youth at the first base position for most of the season as they have leaned on Greg Bird (when healthy). They’ve slotted other players in the position when he was out (Tyler Austin, Neil Walker). In the midst of a pennant race, the Yankees are all about stability and Bour would provide them with a consistent hitter that can hit both lefties and righties with equal plate discipline.
Bour also has two more arbitration eligible years and will allow the Yankees to get consistent quality performance at a quality price for the 2019 and 2020 seasons if Bird doesn’t develop as hoped.
The Trade: RHP Chance Adams and RHP Domingo Acevedo for Justin Bour
The Yankees are stocked at the position with prospects like Jonathan Loaisiga and Justus Sheffield that are high-end talents. This makes Acevedo and Adams more expendable.
Chance Adams has always had some control issues, but he has always been difficult to hit anyway. Domingo Acevedo has stalled some, but the stuff is still elite and for an organization in need of high-end impact prospects, this would be a great get for the Marlins. Both of these guys can impact the major league team in short order. Adams grades out to a #2 starter for me due to his productiveness (his stuff plays more as a #3) and Acevedo has #2 starter stuff with a max-effort delivery. This is an organizational changing set of pitchers for the Marlins.
Potential Trade Destinations: Rockies
The Rockies want to be in the fight, but they have a glaring weakness at first base when they face righties. The Rockies’ batting average by first basemen against righties is .178, which is last in the NL. Let’s not forget they play home games in Coors, which always inflates offensive numbers. This is a huge issue for this organization because to compete with the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers, they will have no room for error.
Bour gives them a HUGE upgrade against righties and an approach which should play well in Coors Field. Controllability is just an added gift allowing any young corner infield options to develop appropriately.
The Trade: OF Raimel Tapia and RHP Antonio Senzatela for Bour
Again, Bour’s controllability helps in securing a quality trade here as the Marlins can get a quick-twitch athletic bat and first-rate athlete that has shown recent dominance at Triple-A in Tapia. He has improved his strike-zone management and has had successful stints in the Majors despite being only 24. He is currently batting .308/353/.527 with 18 steals. He presents few questions that he is ready to perform in the majors with consistent playing time.
Senzatela has been dominant in the minors, as expected, this season. The fact that he has had success while throwing at Coors impressive from a pitching standpoint. He has above average pitching arsenal which includes a fastball, changeup, slider, and curve. He also sports a BB% under 10%, which is huge for high-velocity pitchers. He could help the Fish significantly.
Potential Trade Destinations: Twins
The need is obvious as Logan Morrison has been terrible and last year was one of his few convincing professional seasons. As a Marlins fan, I’m sure your quite familiar with Morrison’s strengths and weaknesses and he has only been exposed for his inconsistencies as a hitter. The Twins fans are getting introduced and I’m sure that its not worth their investment. Bour is a much more advanced hitter with equal power and better ability to hit every day.
The Trade: OF LaMonte Wade and LHP Stephen Gonsalves for Bour
In a system where much of their top-level talent is in A Ball, the Marlins can target these more mature players and get a return full of strong production.
Gonsalves’ profile is one of a #4 starter, but he gets tons of strikeouts and doesn’t get hit. Over 557 minor league innings, batters are hitting only .200 against him. He pitches aggressively and sports a great changeup that just baffles hitters. His command is the key and for the most part he can reign it in when it wavers.
Wade is a walk machine, which I love, but he is also showing extra-base pop. This is imperative as we are seeing with Jesse Winker that walking is part of the equation. What’s more important is patience that get you into hitter’s counts. Wade has shown aptitude at every level. A career .293/.405/.440 hitter in the minors, he will undoubtedly hit and I believe he will grow into a 20 HR/80 RBI guy, which is not a bad get for a team that needs impact guys right now.
We hope you enjoyed this installment of the Trade Tactics series here at Fish Stripes. Stay tuned next week when we cover the trade prospects for Dan Straily.