At the beginning of the offseason, there were many holes that Mike Rizzo needed to address. Starting rotation, bullpen, infield, outfield, backup catcher, power bat, the Nationals needed to address deficiencies at all of these spots. Rizzo did a great job in addressing the team’s MANY needs, all the while not going over the Competitive Balance Tax threshold that many owners do not like, especially the Lerners.
As we inch even closer to when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, we thought we’d hand out grades for the Washington Nationals’ off-season moves. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
Player: INF Josh Bell
Date: December 24, 2020
Contract Details: Acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates for right-handed pitcher Wil Crowe and right-handed pitching prospect Eddy Yean. $6.35 million for the 2021 season.
In 2020, Bell hit .226 with three doubles, eight home runs, 22 RBI and 22 walks in 57 games. He finished the season strong, going 19-for-66 (.288) with a double, four homers, eight RBI, nine walks, and nine runs scored in 21 games from September 6 through September 27.
Bell finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 after leading National League rookies in hits (140), doubles (26), and walks (66). He ranked second in home runs (26), RBI (90), runs (75), triples (6), and total bases (256). His 26 home runs were the most by a switch-hitting rookie in National League history.
Before the pandemic shortened season, Bell posted numerous career bests in 2019, including 37 doubles, 37 home runs, 116 RBI and a .936 OPS.
The only real reason why I didn’t give the Josh Bell acquisition a higher grade is his poor 2020 season. If the Washington Nationals get the 2019 all-star version of Josh Bell this season, we will look back at this trade as another great find for Rizzo. Bell gives the team a legitimate power bat that can hit behind Soto and Turner and a good first baseman under team control for two full seasons; what else could you have wanted?