With the designated hitter likely to be implemented into the National League sooner rather than later, next off-season will be the best time to deal Josh Bell. So who are the best suitors for the Pittsburgh Pirates switch hitting All-Star?
The Pittsburgh Pirates have said that they want to extend some of their younger players, but one of the harder ones to extend is slugging first baseman Josh Bell. Bell’s value is extremely high. Bell hit .277/.367/.569 in 613 plate appearances last season. In terms of extra base hits, he was a machine with 37 doubles, 37 home runs and three triples.
He ranked 22nd in the Majors in wRC+ at 135, and his plate discipline was one of the best in the MLB. Bell’s 0.63 walk to strikeout ratio was 24th in baseball. Among his peers at first base, Bell only ranked behind Pete Alonso and Freddie Freeman in both OPS and wRC+. While his defense was awful, being in the bottom 12 of defensive runs saved (-7), UZR (-7.5), and UZR/150 (-16.4), his bat more than made up for it.
Not only is his value extremely high, but it could get higher. If the MLB implements the designated hitter to the National League next season, you can almost completely take out any sort of defense from the equation. Could it be harder to extend Bell right now? Well, yes. Josh’s agent is one of the best in the game: Scott Boars. Unless the Pirates overpay by a fair margin, Boars will probably suggest that Bell test free agent waters, risking the Pirates losing the top-tier slugger for nothing. Chances are, the Bucs are going to have to trade him some point during the 2020 season, or during the 2020-2021 off-season.
Today, we will look at some of the best trade partners between the Pirates in a potential Bell trade. I am going to look at next off-season, as that will be when Bell’s value could skyrocket with the implementation of the DH, and the DH/1B market will be extremely thin. It should also be mentioned that if the Pirates were to trade Bell during the next off-season, then he would have two full years of control left through arbitration.