Nationals first baseman Josh Bell is among the many likeliest commerce candidates in the marketplace, and the Astros are among the many groups desirous about including the slugger to their lineup, SNY’s Andy Martino tweets. The Mets are additionally mentioned to have curiosity in Bell, who figures to enchantment to only about any workforce in want of an offensive improve.
The 29-year-old Bell (30 subsequent month) has been a pressure in Washington’s lineup for the previous two seasons, coming over from the Pirates in a trade that despatched Wil Crowe and minor league righty Eddy Yean to Pittsburgh in return. After an terrible first month in D.C. final season, the switch-hitting Bell picked up the tempo and hasn’t actually slowed down. Since Could 1, 2021 — a span of 902 plate appearances — Bell is hitting .293/.376/.503 with 38 lengthy balls, 43 doubles and 4 triples.
Bell achieves that manufacturing with a mixture of sturdy plate self-discipline and much better bat-to-ball expertise than one would possibly count on from a burly 6’4″, 255-pound slugger. He’s walked at a powerful 11.2% clip over that stretch of 902 journeys to the plate and struck out in simply 15.2% of them (together with simply 13.5% this season). Bell makes constantly sturdy contact (45.5% hard-hit price, 91.1 mph common exit velocity), and though he places the ball on the bottom greater than is right for somebody together with his energy (51.3% ground-ball price), he’s adept at spraying line drives. Additionally, whereas solely 28.2% of Bell’s batted balls throughout this run have been categorized as fly-balls, multiple in 5 of these flies (20.5%) has left the yard.
Bell as soon as graded as a poor defender at first base however has improved his rankings lately. Public metrics like Defensive Runs Saved (+3) and Outs Above Common (+1) really feel he’s been a strong possibility on the place this season — a far cry from early in his profession when he was handing over full-season marks of -7 and -8. That defensive enchancment is definitely key for the Astros, who must play Bell at first base with a great deal of frequency given the presence of Yordan Alvarez at designated hitter. Alvarez is able to enjoying left area and should achieve this extra typically with Michael Brantley out indefinitely attributable to a shoulder damage, but when the workforce finally ends up again at full energy, both Alvarez or Brantley would require some additional reps within the DH slot.
That situation would seemingly push Astros stalwart Yuli Gurriel right into a part-time function, which can be a bitter tablet for each Gurriel and the group to swallow. Nevertheless, the 38-year-old Gurriel hasn’t carried out as much as his earlier requirements, hitting at a .235/.286/.386 clip by 329 plate appearances. He’s nonetheless making a great deal of contact (13.4% strikeout price), however his stroll price, energy output and batted-ball high quality have all declined. Gurriel is popping the ball as much as the infield at a better price than ever earlier than and is sporting a career-low 17.9% line-drive price. A Gold Glove winner at first base simply final season, Gurriel has additionally posted detrimental marks in each DRS (-2) and OAA (-5).
Gurriel remains to be hitting lefties at a decent .258/.298/.443 clip (110 wRC+), and he’s a fixture within the Houston clubhouse, so it stands to cause that he’d stick on the roster and be relied upon in a part-time function even when the Astros have been to amass Bell or one other first base improve. It’s additionally price stating that Gurriel has proven some indicators of life after an terrible run in April and Could; courting again to June 1, he’s batted .255/.318/.418 in 154 plate appearances. That’s nonetheless a far cry from each his typical manufacturing and the numbers Bell has posted over the previous couple seasons, nevertheless.
Bell is incomes $10MM this season and will likely be a free agent at season’s finish. The Astros’ $174MM payroll is down notably from final season’s franchise-record $188MM mark, they usually’re greater than $30MM shy of the brand new $230MM luxury-tax barrier. As such, there shouldn’t be any monetary roadblocks to face in the way in which of a deal if the 2 events can agree on the younger expertise that would wish to return to Washington in return.