In a Major League Baseball trade on Christmas Eve, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded first baseman Josh Bell of Irving, TX to the Washington Nationals for pitching prospects Wil Crowe, and Eddy Yean. At first glance, Pirates General Manager Ben Cherington must love what he sees from Crowe and Yean, because from a promotional standpoint it is going to be difficult for the Pirates management to spin this deal to a Pittsburgh fan base hungry for a contender now.
Bell did see his statistics drop however in 2020, compared to 2019, when he was a National League All-Star. In 2020, Bell had a batting average of .226, (a career low), with eight home runs and 22 runs batted in. He also scored 22 runs, and had 44 hits, three doubles, 71 total bases, was hit by a pitch twice, and had four sacrifice flies. Bell also had an on base percentage of .305, and a slugging percentage of .364.
In 2019, Bell had career-highs across the board. They included the categories of home runs (37), runs batted in (116), batting average (.277), slugging percentage (.569), runs scored (94), hits (146), doubles (37), walks (74), total bases (300), times hit by a pitch (five), sacrifice flies (seven), and intentional walks (13).
It will now be interesting to see who the Pirates will use at first base in 2021. The feeling at this time is that Colin Moran will move from designated hitter to first base, however, those plans may change if Major League Baseball decides to continue with the designated hitter in the National League. No firm decision has been made as of yet.
There is no doubt that Bell will be the regular first baseman for the Nationals in 2021. Washington seemed to be disappointed with the production from Eric Thames at first base last year. In 2020, Thames only batted .203, with three home runs, and 12 runs batted in. Expectations are high for Major League Baseball teams to get a lot of offensive production at the corner infield positions, and Thames did not meet expectations.