The SF Giants released veteran first baseman Justin Bour from their Triple-A affiliate (Sacramento River Cats) earlier this week. The organization signed Bour just a few months ago, right before the season started. At that time, it was unclear whether veteran starting first baseman Brandon Belt would be healthy enough to be on the active roster to start the season, and other younger corner bats, like LaMonte Wade Jr and Jason Vosler, had yet to prove themselves at the MLB level. However, Belt started the season healthy, and while his current injury status is uncertain, both Wade and Vosler have proven to be viable alternatives.
This year, Bour hit .213/.346/.426 with six home runs in 33 games for the River Cats. Already 33, Bour’s best performances are likely behind him, and he will try to catch on elsewhere. He could have had an opt-out in his original contract that forced the Giants to release him or place him on the big-league roster. He could have another opportunity arise internationally that led him to ask the Giants for his release.
The SF Giants released Justin Bour from their Triple-A affiliate’s roster.
Bour peaked as the starting first baseman for the Miami Marlins from 2015-2018 before a trade to the Phillies, where he worked primarily in a platoon under current Giants manager Gabe Kapler. As a free agent heading into the 2019 season, Bour signed with the Los Angeles Angels, but he hit just .172/.259/.364 in 52 games before he was released. Across his six seasons in the big leagues, Bour has appeared in 559 games, received 1950 plate appearances, hit 92 home runs, and posted a .253/.337/.457 triple-slash.
In 2020, Bour agreed to a one-year deal with the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. Across 102 games, Bour bashed 17 home runs and accrued 45 RBI but posted an underwhelming .243/.343/.421 line. Bour has consistently shown severe platoon splits, hitting far better against right-handed hitters than southpaws, and playing nearly every day in Japan likely forced him to face left-handers more often than he had in the U.S.
The SF Giants could potentially re-sign Justin Bour, especially if veteran starting first baseman Brandon Belt is out for the season with an injury. However, Bour could also find an opportunity with a weaker MLB team, particularly in the American League, that might have more opportunities to find playing time at first base or as a designated hitter.