The Phillies have placed first baseman Justin Bour on waivers, tweets Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The move comes in advance of a fairly notable deadline, as teams have until Tuesday of next week to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to the 40-man roster.
The decision to place Bour on waivers effectively amounts to a non-tender that was not all that difficult to foresee. The former Marlins first baseman was eligible for arbitration for a second time this winter and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to get a raise from $3.4MM to $5.2MM. Bour was acquired in an August swap that sent minor league lefty McKenzie Mills to the Marlins. His time with the Phils proved to be exceptionally brief, as he tallied just 54 plate appearances in a limited role and batted .224/.296/.347. Bour was picked up to be a bench bat down the stretch and never looked like a long-term fit on a roster that included both Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana.
Bour, 30, had a down season overall at the plate in ’18, hitting .227/.341/.404 between Miami and Philadelphia. That marked a notable drop-off from his most productive seasons, when he batted a combined .279/.359/.510 in 750 PAs from 2016-17 with the Marlins. Though Bour has always had his limitations — that impressive slash line from 2016-17 is the product of being heavily shielded from opposing lefties, and he’s limited to first base only — there was still reported trade interest in him two summers ago. President of baseball ops Michael Hill said at the time that he wasn’t interested in discussing long-term assets in trades, though, and Bour stayed put in Miami. Under new ownership, the Marlins went on to strip down the roster and trade numerous controllable assets just months after Hill originally made those comments.
Other teams will have the chance to claim Bour off waivers, but if they do so, he’ll remain arbitration-eligible and carry that same projected salary to a new team. If Bour clears waivers, he has enough service time to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency — a route he’d surely take. That said, even with his impressive numbers from 2016-17, Bour could find a fairly tepid market in free agency. Teams haven’t spent much on first-base-only sluggers in recent winters, as evidenced by minimal contracts secured by the likes of Matt Adams, Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison, among others.