After winning the World Series in 2019, the Washington Nationals had a monumental collapse, finishing 26-34. A major issue was the pitching staff that posted the 5th worst ERA in the league at 5.09. While the offense ranked a reasonably good 10th in runs scored, the power production was lacking, ranked 21st in home runs.
The Washington Nationals made a very good trade that addressed their power needs and first base needs. Former All-Star Josh Bell was acquired by the Nationals in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Wil Crow and Eddy Yean, two minor league pitching prospects.
The hole as first base became quickly evident when a mutual option with Eric Thames was declined. Veteran Ryan Zimmerman is expected to return after opting out last season, but one must wonder how much is left in the tank at age 36 after a year off. Therefore, the signing of Josh Bell was an excellent move by the Nationals. After 26 home runs his rookie season in 2017, Josh Bell struggled to only 12 home runs in 2018. However, he broke out in 2019 with 37 home runs, 11 RBI and a .936 OPS. Bell’s career continued on the seesaw with an off year last season in which he hit only .226 with eight home runs in 57 games.
A power-hitting switch hitter, Bell gives the Pirates a strong presence from both sides of the plate, assuming he can get more consistent and show more of his 2017 or 2019 form. He and superstar Juan Soto would form a dominant power duo in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup. The Nationals are still stocked with three excellent starting pitchers in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. With the addition of Bell, all that is need for the Nationals to get back into serious contention is a better mix in the bullpen. Even a few small upgrades and expect the Nationals to be heard from late in the 2021 season.