Pittsburgh Pirates: Debating if a Josh Bell Reunion This Offseason Makes Sense

Would a reunion with former first baseman Josh Bell make sense for the Pirates this offseason?

Aug 19, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Miami Marlins designated hitter Josh Bell (9) hits a
Aug 19, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Miami Marlins designated hitter Josh Bell (9) hits a / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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Would a reunion with Josh Bell this offseason make sense for the Pittsburgh Pirates?

While it's unlikely to occur, a Josh Bell return to the Pittsburgh Pirates is possible this offseason. Prior to this season, he signed a 2-year, $33 million contract with the Cleveland Guardians before getting traded to the Miami Marlins. His contract includes a player opt-out after this season.

So, all of this does come with a bit of a caveat. That caveat being that Bell would have to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent in order for this option to even be on the table for the Pirates.

With a lack of first base depth in Pittsburgh, could a Bell return be possible? It most likely is just a pipe dream because the Pirates don't like to commit to players long-term. Currently, if you look at the team, they have two options who can play first base: Alfonso Rivas, whom they acquired from the Ji-Man Choi and Rich Hill trade to the Padres, and prospect Malcom Nuñez, who, if everything goes right, could have a shot in MLB soon. They also have Connor Joe, who can occasionally play first base, but playing out of position, he like isn't an every day option.

Due to his age, a long-term contract is unlikely to happen. But if they can sign him to a 4-year contract worth between $50-60 million, it would create more value if he can return to form after struggling in 2023. Based on WAR (Wins Above Replacement), his contract, if he can get 3 WAR per season like he did in 2019, 2021, and 2022, would be worth $21 million a season.

So, over a period of 4 seasons, if he could get a 3 WAR each, combining to 12 total, his actual value would be $84 million, meaning you would have saved $24-34 million in actual value. But this is risky due to his up-and-down nature, where he goes through really good streaks and very bad droughts.

Note: I calculated my numbers using bWAR with a value of $7,000,000 per 1 bWAR, although this value can vary depending on who you ask due to differences in the metrics and statistics considered.

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