After being reluctant to move controllable veterans last week at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Marlins parted with longtime first baseman Justin Bour on Friday afternoon. He’s going to the division rival Phillies. In exchange, left-hander McKenzie Mills is headed to Miami. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was first to report it.
Coming off a career year, Bour has been somewhat disappointing in 2018. He’s slashing .227/.347/.412, but was leading the Marlins in both home runs (19) and runs batted in (54). FanGraphs pegged his overall value at 0.4 fWAR, dragged down by his lack of athleticism.
Rosenthal clarifies that Bour was claimed by the Phillies after being placed on revocable waivers. That means he first passed through each of the National League teams with weaker records. The Marlins took responsibility for a portion of the $900,000 still owed to Bour in order to convince the Phils to include Mills in the deal, Rosenthal adds.
The 22-year-old Mills was originally an 18th-round draft pick of the Nationals in 2014. They dealt him a year ago to acquire veteran Howie Kendrick. He’s believed to have major league starter potential, pitching to a 3.51 earned run average with 21.8 percent strikeout rate in the Florida State League this season. MLB Pipeline didn’t have him among the Phillies’ top 30 prospects, but he was No. 22 on their preseason list.
It’s unclear whether the Phillies value Bour as a rental or long-term contributor. Bour is in line for a significant raise on his $3.4 million salary via arbitration, and also has another year of control in 2020. The Phils might choose to non-tender him between now and then with fellow Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins already in place as first-place options.
What does Bour’s departure mean for the Fish? They should now have flexibility to shift Derek Dietrich to first base, opening up playing time in left field for a more, uh, fluid defensive player. In the immediate aftermath, Rafael Ortega was promoted from Triple-A New Orleans. It will be his first major league action since joining the club as a minor league free agent.
Despite losing some of his closest teammates during the offseason trades, the 30-year-old slugger remained a relentlessly positive presence in the clubhouse.
Bour certainly left his mark in Miami. He ranks top 25 in franchise history in games, homers, runs batted in, walks and numerous other offensive categories.
We will forever cherish his performance during the 2017 Home Run Derby.