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Report: Josh Bell Traded to Nationals; Pirates Get Pitchers Eddy Yean, Wil Crowe

Pittsburgh Pirates' Josh Bell takes the field during a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to trade first baseman Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals for pitching prospects Eddy Yean and Wil Crowe on Thursday. 

Jeff Passan of ESPN reported the news, with Jon Heyman of MLB Network relaying the players involved. Crowe was the third-ranked prospect in the Nationals organization, and Yean ranked sixth, per MLB.com

Bell has spent his entire career with the Pirates, emerging as a power-hitting All-Star during the 2019 season. He struggled during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign, hitting .226/.305/.364 with eight home runs and 22 runs batted in, but the Nationals are banking on a bounce-back in a stronger lineup.

The Pirates are moving on from Bell in what amounts to a long-term cash-saving measure. He has one year of arbitration remaining before he reaches free agency after the 2022 season.

The Pirates regularly have one of the lowest payrolls in the sport. Bell likely would have been out of their price range once he hit the open market, so they’re getting ahead off the curve by trading him—receiving more in return and punting on a 2021 campaign in which they were not expected to compete.

The Nationals could be more likely to pay Bell over the long term, especially if he returns to 2019 form. If not, the opportunity cost is relatively low. He’s a dangerous power bat who can hit in the Nos. 4-6 slots but doesn’t bring much (if anything) defensively. 

Washington desperately needed help at first base after Eric Thames struggled to fill the spot in 2020. 

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