First baseman Justin Bour was just placed on waivers by the Phillies. Should the Detroit Tigers look to pursue the big left-hander?
Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila has a handful of holes to fill on this roster heading into 2019. One of them is at first base – assuming the team plans to have Miguel Cabrera serve as their full-time designated hitter.
The team could employ John Hicks at first, but it makes more sense for the team to find a cheap alternative on the open market – someone they could potentially trade at the July trade deadline and acquire more prospects.
Justin Bour to Detroit
Coming off an excellent 2017 season that saw him slash .289/.366/.536 with 25 home runs, 83 RBI and a 135 wRC+, Bour disappointed in 2018. He managed 20 home runs and a 107 wRC+, but hit just .227 and poor defense at first limited him to a 0.5 fWAR.
He was traded to the Phillies midway through the year, and became nothing more than a part-time pinch-hitter, leading to his release to clear room on the 40-man roster.
However, Bour’s performance last year was not as bad as it seems. For starters, his 14.6% walk rate was a career-high, and while his 24.8% strikeout rate was also a career-high, that’s still not terrible for a slugger. Plus, his chase rate and swinging strike rate actually dropped from 2017, meaning his high strikeout rate might be more of a fluke than anything.
Bour is just 30 and now represents one of the best power hitting first baseman options on the open market. He may cost a bit more than a Logan Morrison or a Luis Valbuena, but if Detroit is willing to pony up he would immediately add a very strong presence to the heart of Detroit’s order.
Plus, if his power stays consistent and his batting average can return to the .260 range (he hit .227 last year thanks to an abnormally low .277 BABIP) he would be a hot commodity on the trade market come July.
Bour would be a solid addition for this rebuilding Detroit Tigers team. It’s unclear what the market will look like for him, but with Morrison, Valbuena and Lucas Duda all available, Detroit should be able to find a slugging veteran first baseman to add in 2019.