Nationals: Washington To Acquire Pirates First Baseman Josh Bell
By Max Rayman
After being silent all off-season, Washington shocked the baseball world by sending two prospects to Pittsburgh for first baseman Josh Bell.
A few months ago, we detailed our perfect off-season plan for the Nationals and explained why the team should trade for Josh Bell. Glad to see great minds think alike. With a glaring hole at first base, Washington made headlines by trading for Josh Bell. The Pirates slugger had a down year in 2020, but in 2019 hit .277, with 37 homers, 116 RBIs, and an OPS of .936. This solves an immediate problem for Washington, adding much-needed protection for the young superstar Juan Soto. In Washington, Bell will no longer be the guy, which will hopefully remove any extra pressure that was engulfing him. Bell is the next former Pirate to be shipped out, following Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, and Austin Meadows, all of whom had breakout seasons after their departure. Here’s hoping Bell can follow their lead.
Only 28, Bell has two years left on his contract and is still under arbitration. Defensively, Bell struggles, seen by his career -32 DRS and -19.9 UZR at first. Bell would benefit from a move to DH in the future. This move does not rule out a return for Ryan Zimmerman who is still mulling his future. In fact, Washington would thrive if both returned, due to the extra rest Mr. National would be receiving.
In return, Washington shipped out pitching prospects Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean, their 3rd and sixth-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. For the Pirates, this trade comes maybe a year too late. They have entered a full-blown rebuild, but Bell’s stock has taken a hit due to his down year and oversaturated market of corner power bats. Crowe is an MLB ready prospect who was blocked by Washington’s rotation and will receive plenty of opportunities with the Pirates. Only 19, Yean is known for his fastball. MLB Pipeline uses a 20-80 scale rating and his fastball is his highest rated pitch at a 60. His heater can reach 97 and he is other pitches are still developing.
For Washington, this trade is a win, due to adding a much-needed power bat and keeping both Jackson Rutledge and Cade Cavalli. From the Pirate’s perspective, they added an MLB ready talent and a high upside prospect. Not the best return, but due to the circumstances, Pittsburgh could have done much worse.