The Angels announced following tonight’s game that they’ve optioned first baseman Justin Bour to Triple-A Salt Lake. They’ll make a corresponding roster move prior to tomorrow’s game, which, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link), will be to select the contract of first baseman/left-handed reliever Jared Walsh.
Though Bour is a veteran of parts of six big league seasons, he’s still a couple of months shy of the five full years of MLB service time. Players with five or more years of MLB service can only be optioned to the minors with their consent, but Bour entered the year at four years, 64 days of MLB service and is now at four years, 111 days.
Bour, 30, was non-tendered by the Phillies in the offseason and inked a one-year deal worth $2.5MM with the Halos. At the time, the hope was that he could help fill in for Shohei Ohtani early in the season and then move into some kind of timeshare at first base and designated hitter. But while he entered the year as a career .260/.344/.466 hitter with 84 home runs in 1563 Major League plate appearances, Bour has batted only .163/.268/.316 through 112 plate appearances with his new club. He’s drawn 13 walks in that time, demonstrating strong knowledge of the strike zone, but has also shown questionable contact skills with a 27.7 percent strikeout rate.
If Bour is able to eventually turn things around, the Angels will be able to control him through the 2020 season as an arbitration-eligible player this winter, but that’s a long way from being a consideration at this point. For now, he’ll simply work to earn another crack at the big league roster.
As for Walsh, the 25-year-old is off to a .302/.398/.604 slash with 10 homers and a dozen doubles on the season so far. He’s also pitched five innings of relief and allowed a pair of runs on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He’s more of a position player than a pitcher — Walsh has just 13 2/3 professional innings under his belt in the minors — but he’s an intriguing player to monitor as he gets his first call to the big leagues.