Five Best Potential Trading Partners for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Josh Bell
By Noah Wright
With the designated hitter being implemented sooner rather than later, most NL teams would probably be left without a good answer for DH. The Braves could be one of them. Bell obviously would not push defensive standout and MVP candidate Freddie Freeman out of first base as he is one of the best defenders at first in the game. Since 2017, Freeman has had +11 DRS, making him a top six defensive first baseman in the league.
But at designated hitter, who would currently play there? One answer could be third baseman/corner outfielder, and former top prospect, Austin Riley. But Riley was a well above average defender last season posting a +3 DRS and +2.7 UZR in the outfield. At third base, Riley had +1 DRS and +0.3 UZR. So it would not be the brightest idea to place someone with that kind of defensive prowess at designated hitter.
The Braves still have a deep farm system, even after many graduated prospect status. One of the most interesting prospects the Pirates could target is Ian Anderson. The pitching prospect is considered a top 50 prospect, and did very well at Double-A last season. In 111 innings, the 21-year-old pitched to the tune of a 2.68 ERA, 2.91 FIP, and struck out batters at a strong 11.9 per nine rate. While he isn’t the best control pitcher, he kept walks to a sub-4 rate at 3.8 per nine. Home runs have never been an issue for Anderson either, indicated by his 0.65 HR/9 in 2019. The right hander did struggle in Triple-A, but it was a small 24.2 inning sample size.
Another prospect that could also be in the deal is catcher William Contreras. The 22-year-old did struggle with the bat last season, but has a solid track record in the batter’s box in the past. But the real attraction to Contreras is his glove. FanGraphs gives the prospect a future fielding grade of 55, and an arm grade of 60.