The Pirates gave the St. Louis Cardinals the best present
The St. Louis Cardinals haven’t made any significant moves but the division around them continues to cut salary. Josh Bell is the latest player on the move.
The offseason has been very slow for the entire league, but it has felt especially slow for the St. Louis Cardinals. While the Cardinals look to cut their payroll, it has been reported that every other team in the NL Central is also strapped for cash.
The Chicago Cubs have already cut Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. and are looking to move Yu Darvish. The Reds don’t look like they’ll re-sign Trevor Bauer and have been rumored to be shopping Sonny Gray after trading Rasiel Iglesias. The Brewers haven’t done anything yet, and now the lowly Pirates have moved on from one of their only big pieces.
Josh Bell is no longer in the NL Central.
This Christmas Eve trade was a surprise, to say the least. Normally, it seems that by the holidays, everything shuts down in the transaction department of the MLB. However, it makes sense why the Nationals didn’t want to let the Pirates think on this trade.
Josh Bell, now 28, was in his second year of arbitration after a horrible 2020. In 57 games, the switch-hitter batted just .226 and had an OPS below .670. It is tough for a bat like Bell in a lineup with very little protection, but it is safe to say that Bell was a victim of a small sample last year.
In 2019, Bell was really hitting his potential. With a .277/.367/.569 slash line, Bell was an All-Star while driving in 116 behind the strength of 37 homers. His 135 wRC+ in 2019 is a stark contrast from his 78 wRC+ in 2020.
The Nationals needed a first baseman and were extremely smart to buy low on Bell. For two years of Bell, the Nats only gave up their third and sixth prospects. Wil Crowe pitched in the MLB in 2020 and was not very good, but the 26-year-old has the chance to be a fine innings-eater for the Pirates. Eddy Yean is just 19 and hasn’t pitched above Low-A. Yean has the potential to be a good starter but still has a lot of development left.
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- St. Louis Cardinals: 3 free agent bench options to consider
- John Mozeliak gives an update on the St. Louis Cardinals off-season plans
- Cardinals: Adam Wainwright commits to Team USA for the WBC
- Cyber Monday: Best bargain free agents for the St. Louis Cardinals
- Cardinals: These are the best trade partners this off-season
The biggest surprise about this trade was how low Bell’s value was. The Pirates likely recognized they wouldn’t be able to re-sign Bell in two years and traded him while they could. I would argue that it might’ve been smarter to wait until mid-season when he could recoup some of his value, but they probably had their reasons for trading him now.
Outside of Ke’Bryan Hayes, the Pirates don’t have much going for them now, but the Cardinals should be ecstatic to see Bell leaving the Central. While Bell hasn’t been amazing against the Cardinals over his career, he really destroyed the Cardinals in 2019 with a .310/.423/.552 slash line with three homers and 16 RBI.
The Pirates weren’t daring to leave the bottom of the division this year, but with it looking like the Cardinals will only be making platoon moves and not sweeping changes, they’ll need all the help they can get.
Bell was a force in 2019 against the Cardinals and while the team may still face the slugger some in matchups with the Nationals, they won’t see him nearly as much as they had in years prior. While this may not have been a great Christmas present to fans in Pittsburgh, it was a present to the Cardinals.