Potential New York Yankees trade target Josh Bell has been traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Washington Nationals. The Yankees reportedly had interest in trading for the first-baseman despite saying that Luke Voit would remain the starter. Bell was linked to the Yankees along with pitcher Jameson Taillon.
The Nationals sent pitching prospects Will Crowe and Eddy Yean to Pittsburgh to complete the trade.
Bell, 28, has four years of service time and is set to become a free-agent following the 2022 season. He’ll make $6 million with the Nationals in 2021 under an arbitration agreement.
Playing in parts of five big league seasons, Bell’s known for his extraordinary power and poor defense. Bell made his debut in 2016, batting .273 with a .775 OPS and a 108 OPS+ in 45 games. He’d build off a solid 2016 campaign with an .800 OPS and 26 home runs in 2017, then took a step back with just a .768 OPS and 12 home runs in 2018.
However, 2019 would see Bell take shape as an elite hitter. Mashing 37 home runs and driving in 116, Bell hit .277 with a .936 OPS and a 142 OPS+. 2020 wasn’t good for Bell, ending with an OPS of .669 and just eight home runs.
The major flaw with Bell is his defense, likely a reason as to why the Yankees stayed away from him. Bell has a career -7.0 dWAR with -37 defensive runs saved.
The Nationals desperately needed a first-baseman, and they got one at the expense of a pair of pitching prospects. For the Yankees, it’s a good thing they stayed away from Bell. His offense has shown inconsistency over his career, and his defensive abilities hurt his value. With Luke Voit already in the lineup, the Yankees don’t need another power-hitting first-baseman.
Bell fits well with the Nationals, and more importantly, he isn’t a Yankee.