The Nationals have a brand-new first baseman. In an out-of-the-blue Christmas Eve swap, Washington has acquired Josh Bell from the Raider in exchange for right-handed pitchers Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean, according to announcements from both clubs.

Josh Bell

Bell, 28, packs the Nationals’ vacant at first base and leaves the sorority a switch-hitting power bat to pair with Juan Soto in the heart of the order. Like most of the Pirates’ lineup, Bell fought in 2020, hitting only. 226/.305 /. 364 with a career-high 26.5 percentage strikeout charge. Nonetheless, outside of last year’s shortened season, Bell has been a fertile big league hitter throughout his career.

The Pirates selected Bell with the 61 st overall pick in 2011 and paid him a then-record$ 5MM indicating bonus, shattering the recommended slot value to convince Bell to forgo his college commitment. The 6′ 4 ” slugger rated as one of the game’s top expectations throughout his minor league tenure and was a fertile hitter each season from 2016 -1 8, posting a compounded. 260/.348 /. 436 batting course — good for a 110 wRC+( put another way: overall production that was 10 percentage better than a league-average hitter ).

In 2019, Bell explosion with a breakout, 37 -homer campaign that had contributed to his first All-Star nod. Tapping into the raw power for which he’d long been touted, Bell raked at a. 277/.367 /. 569 clip, computing in 37 doubles and three triples while plating 116 runs in exactly 143 sports frisked. It’s worth noting that he tailed off in the second half, and those clashes carried over into the aforementioned down time in 2020. The Nats are buying in the ideology that Bell can be much closer to that 2019 All-Star who gazed to be emerging as one of the league’s premier ability bats.

Bell is eligible for arbitration for the second time this winter and has yet to settle on a wage for the 2021 campaign. He’s owed a raise on last year’s $4.8 MM salary and is now under National sovereignty through the 2022 season

The Bell acquisition renders the Nats an daily option at first base, which could complicate any potential reunion with Ryan Zimmerman, although the two could certainly form a quality pairing at the position. Although Bell is a switch-hitter, he’s vastly better from the left side of the dish, so if the Nats want to bring Zimmerman back for a 16 th season,” Mr. National” could move into a terrace persona and trance Bell against tougher lefties. Of route, if the International league for human rights returns back the designated hitter for the 2021 season, Bell could crowd that capacity full-time for the Nats. That could be a best-case scenario for Washington, as Bell is regarded as a well below-average defender at his position.

In return for two years of Bell, the Plagiarist will web an immediate spin bit in the 26 -year-old Crowe — a onetime second-round pick himself( 2017 ). The 6′ 2 ”, 228 -pound Crowe shaped his big league debut in 2020, starting three plays for the Nats but being called for 11 races in 8 1/3 innings. That’s a minuscule test on which to judge Crowe, nonetheless. The right-hander has been considered one of the Nats’ best expectations since the day he was drafted. While he’s had knee and elbow injuries in the past — including Tommy John surgery while sloping at the University of South Carolina — he set career-highs in starts( 26) and innings( 149 1/3) during his last full season in 2019.

Baseball America recently ranked Crowe 10 th among Nationals farmhands, and was the team’s No. 3 promise at on their midseason higher-rankings and No. 4 at FanGraphs. Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel wrote in that FanGraphs report that Crowe has three above-average slopes and a promising changeup but” imprecise command” of his arsenal and some durability concerns because of that gash track record. Crowe was hammered for a 6.17 ERA in his lone Triple-A experience, although that came while sloping in an outrageously hitter-friendly setting in 2019 — both due to the juiced ball in Triple-A and the conditions of Fresno’s park in the Pacific Coast League.

It remains to be seen whether the Plagiarist will push Crowe directly into the rotation or give him some added time in Triple-A in 2021, but it’d be a surprise if he weren’t called to the big leagues at some target next season. Pittsburgh currently projects to have Joe Musgrove, Mitch Keller, Steven Brault, Chad Kuhl and a returning Jameson Taillon in its spin, though Musgrove, Brault and Kuhl have all been discussed in trade talks as well. Further transactions between now and Opening address could very well to alter that composition to some extent.

The 19 -year-old Yean is a much longer-term play for the Pirates, although it’s justifiable that he’s the more pleading bit of the bargain. Baseball America’s updated ranking of the National’ raise has Yean two recognises higher than Crowe, touting an “explosive” fastball that reachings 97 mph and could descend higher as he continues to increase. Yean sheds both a four-seamer and two-seamer in addition to a slider and a changeup. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, Yean has the type of velocity, breaking ball and projectable enclose usual of first- and second-round high school draftees, Longenhagen wrote for his Nats higher-rankings at FanGraphs.

The Bell trade could be the first of several for the rebuilding Pirate this wintertime. Musgrove remains one of the more pleading weapons who could change hands this offseason, and any of Brault, Kuhl, reliever Richard Rodriguez, catcher Jacob Stallings and second baseman Adam Frazier stand out as workable sell patches. No one in the NL Central is making an vigorous pushing to grab the separation crown, but the Raiders are the only one of the quintet who are in the midst of a full-scale rehabilitate. Further change is surely on the horizon under second-year general manager Ben Cherington.

The Nats, meanwhile, still have work to do. Adding a region outfielder, at least one back-of-the-rotation starter — especially now that they’ve subtracted Crowe from the concoction — and perhaps an upgrade at catcher could all be on the horizon for GM Mike Rizzo and his staff as the Nats look to get back to their winning courses in 2021.

Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported that the two teams were closing in on a craft. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that an arrangement of Bell for two young pitchers had been reached. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman added their lists of the two pitchers going to Pittsburgh.

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