Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Recap: Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals
It’s been nearly a full calendar year since the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals. So how does the trade look now, and what is the future outlook on it?
For the past year-plus the Pittsburgh Pirates made a handful of trades for the rebuild. There are many trades that we won’t know the full extent of until the next handful of seasons, but it’s been about a year since many of the trades from the last offseason were made.
It’s been a full season to see how some things have played out. So I wanted to start recapping some trades that the Pirates have made since last off-season, how they look today and their future outlook. Today, we’re going to start with the first big move of the 2020-2021 offseason, Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Josh Bell he was coming off a down year. Albeit, a very shortened year. He only had a .286 wOBA, .669 OPS, and 77 wRC+, but on just 223 plate appearances. Bell had shown the talent to be a potential Silver Slugger in the past but had yet to put it all together.
Bell struggled with year-to-year inconsistencies. In his 2017 rookie season, he was a power hitter. In 2018, he was an on-base/average hitter. In 2019, he was three different hitters. In April/May, he was an MVP-caliber batter. In June/July, he struggled heavily. Then to finish off the season in August/September, he rebounded and was a good hitter, but not nearly as close as his April/May numbers. Throughout it all, his best position is likely as a designated hitter. Bell had -20 Defensive Runs Saved throughout 2017-2020, which was in the bottom 50 of players.
There was no denying that Bell had the raw power to be a slugger. He consistently put up good hard hit numbers and exit velocities of 90+ MPH. Plus he showed some solid plate discipline. He drew walks at a solid 11.7% rate and only struck out 19.5% of the time. But he only ever reached 1.0 fWAR once, that being his 2019 season. The ability to hit was there, but the ability to do it consistently never showed up it seemed.