Trading within the division is not supposed to be a common practice. The two eastern divisions in the MLB, however, have bucked the system over the past two seasons. The Miami Marlins traded A.J. Ramos to the New York Mets last year and look primed to pull off a surprising steal a year later. Before this year’s trade deadline, the Mets shipped up veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to the Philadelphia Phillies.
After the deadline, Miami did their share of bargaining with a Phillies team that contended much faster than expected. On August 10, they shipped power-hitting first baseman Justin Bour to Philly in exchange for minor league pitcher and now Marlins’ 29th-ranked prospect McKenzie Mills.
Obviously the Marlins cannot make any case for a trade victory until Mills makes some noise in South Florida, and his career in the Marlins system has been rather poor so far. Although Bour has the potential to be a huge steal for the Phillies, his 2018 campaign has not gone too well. After a career year last season, when he swatted 25 home runs, participated in the home run derby in his home ballpark, and fell just short of hitting .300, Bour’s hitting dwindled to .227, a career worst. Despite hitting a respectable 19 home runs, his WAR dipped from 2.3 in 2017 to 0.5 in 2018.
That likely affected his demand at the trade deadline and small return in August, as the 30-year-old has been limited to a platoon role with fellow first baseman Carlos Santana through 10 days. He is just 3-15 in seven games and has yet to register an RBI in Philadelphia.
If it makes the Phillies feel any better, the Marlins are responsible for $2.5 million of the one-year, $3.4 million contract that he got last season. After this season, however, Bour is eligible for two years of arbitration, which could affect whether Philadelphia is willing to keep him around in a crowded lineup. At the moment, the Phillies have little to be excited about this trade, as Bour is currently not living up to his lofty expectations from 2017.
Is a fringe prospect that has been on three NL East systems in four years a decent return for Bour? No, but Bour’s big 2017 campaign looks like a fluke, and the Marlins were not as desperate to sell their players last year as they were this year. With Bour now at the wrong side of 30, Miami made a good choice in getting someone out of the struggling first baseman. Now the Marlins have to hope that another rebuilding trade works in their favor and Mills figures things out in AA Jacksonville.
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