Last winter, the Pirates and Josh Bell discussed an extension to keep the hulking first baseman in Pittsburgh long-term, but nothing actionable materialized. Management plans to try again this winter, per the Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel. Bell is represented by Scott Boras, and he is currently set to enter free agency following the 2022 season.
Bell is coming off a relatively disastrous campaign in 2020, and the Pirates would likely look to secure him for a reasonable extension. Biertempfel suggests the two sides could settle on a 3-year deal, allowing the Pirates a little more long-term security, while Bell would still enter free agency in his early thirties.
Bell looked like a surefire franchise player with a .277/367/.569 breakout campaign with 37 home runs and 116 RBIs in 2019. But as much as he impressed with 2019, the inverse happened in 2020 as he stumbled with a triple slash of .226/.305/.364. His year-over-year wRC+ tumbled from 135 in 2019 to 78 in 2020.
The Pirates don’t appear particularly close to contention, and as a small market club, the argument can certainly be made that they should explore trading Bell for prospects. But the Pirates can’t likely get the kind of return they need to move him, so they have to either play out the string until free agency two seasons from now, or try to get an extra year or two or three of control before that moment.
If he bounces back, after all, an extension may only make him more appealing as a trade candidate. Scott Boras seems to prefer to take his clients to their natural free agency, and that remains the likeliest option for Bell. Still, Boras clients have signed arbitration extensions in the past, and given the current uncertainty facing free agents, now might be the right time for the Pirates to strike.
That would definitley be interesting, but I would rather them look into an extension with Ke’Bryan Hayes. Regardless, Bell has been very very inconsistent so far. Last year, he had that insane first few months, struggled in June and July, and did pretty decent in October and September. This year, he did awful in the first 30 games but then pretty solid in the last 30. It seems that the DH will be here in the next few years, and that looks like his best position. His defense is atrocious.
With all the pitchers being carried today, teams need the flexibility of guys who can play multiple positions. Bell doesn’t even have one position. Their interest in extending him might be a decoy intended to assess his trade value. “This guy’s good and we’d like to extend him. But since we can’t reach an agreement, what will you give us for the two remaining years on his contract?” I’m not saying it will work. Just that I’d be leery about extending a player who hasn’t been a consistent performer. Should he remain up-and-down, his maximum value as a trade chip would be now. Arb-eligible and currently sitting at $4.8 million. In this depressed baseball economy, someone might see that as enough of a bargain to give decent value in return. If they keep him and he mashes, we know the Bucs won’t be able to match what Boras wants in a possible extension.
His max trade value is likely July, since it’s a near certainty that he will improve from a wretched 2020. If he is traded this off-season, it had better be to a team with an expectation that he can at least approach his 2019 stats, thus netting a decent return.
Yeah, especially with throwing. You see how he throws the ball around the infield or back the the Pitcher? Similar arm angle to Pedro Alvarez, like wth? He was a dam Outfeider! In that old try out video,he’s in RF, fielding a base hit on the ground and then throwing to a base. Arm angle was fine then, and he had a strong arm. So I’m confused as to how you go from throwing like a normal outfielder would to now, with this odd arm angle with zero accuracy. It’s so frustrating.
They had changed it up this spring because he was struggling with his old arm angle. It just seems so odd some position players just can’t throw accurately. But it’s more than just his throwing. A handful of times, he’d botch plays.
Yeah everyone was saying he was better than Cody Bellinger at the time, that he would be MVP. He’s a solid player but I would be cautious locking him up for big money.
Pwndroia: I think the only reason they are exploring an extension is to pay based more on 2020 results than what happened previously, ie looking for a steal
Rather see him traded .
Agreed Dice 66. Agreed.
Me too, but I don’t think right now woud be the time to trade him unless a team essentially gives up exactly what Cherington wants. The Pirates want to extend Bell now for the same reason why they might not be super inclined to trade him: his value is low after a down season.
2 years/$15M with a mutual option for $22M with $5M buyout. Who says no? Or does this deal get signed?
Triple your numbers.
You do realize he has two more years of arbitration left, right? Not to mention he’s coming off a subpar year in a market that looks like it’ll be devastating for players.
And if the Pirates only want to play him as a DH, doesn’t that also bring his price down? Serious question.
Since that proposal is effectively 2 yrs/20 million since there’s no way Nutting picks up his end of a 22 million mutual option, its not a bad deal or framework. I’d expect a straight 3 years for 27-28 million though. Pirates typically only add option years at the end of lengthy pre-arb extensions with relatively minuscule buyouts, can’t recall any instances of extensions with mutual options from them.
Hope he goes back to his 2019 ways, when he was a bright spot. Go Buccos!
This is a weird case. Agent will want 15-20 mil AAV, and the Bucs might push 10 AAV. Wonder if there is going to be compromise?
If the agent wasn’t Boras maybe so. Instead we will get to hear Boras make an epic quote about how incredible Bell is. Then watch him become a free agent
3 true outcome guy. With k being by far the most likely
When he’s locked in and hitting bombs he also gets his fair share of doubles in the gaps.
Strikeouts are actually one of the few things he’s been able to consistently avoid. This was the first year he put up a K% above 20%, and it was in 60 games.
you wonder if the league has figured him out and he hasn’t made the needed adjustments
In the current climate, Josh Bell is a non-tender candidate with a projected 2021 arbitration salary between $5.1 million and $7.2 million. With the depressed market, the Pirates could score an equal talent for less.
On the other hand, with the threat of a non-tender, the Bucs could pressure Bell into a team-friendly extension.
This offseason should see a significant spike in non-tenders because owners can find cheaper options.
Non-tender as threat to get a lower salary? Do you understand what a non-tender means. He will easily get more than $10 million a year.
It’s not hard
Team says take my guaranteed money
Or we non tender you and you are just another person in the sea of expensive non tenders when no one has money
Here’s the pen
All contracts in MLB are guaranteed. Josh Bell would have no trouble finding a team if he were non-tendered.
He would not be getting, let’s say 30-40M guaranteed in this market though. He knows he would probably get 5-9M as a true free agent. So take 35M now guaranteed or trust not only your agent to get a good deal this year, but trust yourself to do better in 2021?
And arbitration is not guaranteed until sometime in spring training. Free agent deal would be different.
But for Bell/Pitt, they could hold his arbitration contract over his as leverage till ST, just threatening to DFA him before it’s guaranteed in March. They’d only owe him 25 days pay or so.
Then he’d be the last guy on a market already dried up that was already dry to begin with. THATS the leverage that every team holds over an arbitration guy.
agent has to really consider getting his client guaranteed money, even if it’s less than he would have gotten 5 years ago, when this is a very real reality
Do you understand how arbitration works? A team can’t leverage a player over an arbitration salary. Once you offer arbitration, you can’t change the terms. The team is on the hook for the full amount once the contract is signed. Bell would easily find a job. Any player that give 25-30 hrs a year will have a job.
Even with his fine 2019 season, Josh Bell has posted only only 3.5 fWAR, valued at $27.7 million, In 552 MLB games over five seasons. Bell fares even worse with bWAR at 2.4 for his career.
If the Pirates non-tender Bell because of his projected 2021 salary of $5.1 million to $7.2 million, the 28-year-old slugger will find a job elsewhere … but likely at a reduced salary in this offseason’s depressed market.
As another poster noted, if an arbitration-eligible player is tendered a contract, the contract is not guaranteed:
A decent comp might be a former NL Central first baseman, Jesus Aguilar, who in 2018 hit 35 home runs with 108 RBIs with the Milwaukee Brewers.
When Aguilar’s production fell off in his 2019 season split between Milwaukee and Tampa Bay, the Rays waived Aguilar as he entered his first year of arbitration. The Miami Marlins then signed Aguilar as a free agent to a $2.575 million contract for the 2020 season.
Bell has posted 3.5 fWAR and 2.4 bWAR in 552 career games while Aguilar has posted 3.8 fWAR and 3.6 bWAR in 499 career games.
Hahahaha Howie. Hope you feel like a moron. Come at me hard AND you’re wrong
Clearly YOU do not understand arbitration. I’m sure you’ll own it, right?
Players who are on arbitration (unless specified at the time of the agreement), Minor League or split contracts are not fully guaranteed their salaries.
Players on arbitration contracts who are cut on or before the 16th day of Spring Training are owed 30 days’ termination pay (based on the prorated version of his agreed-upon arbitration salary). A player cut between the 16th day and the end of Spring Training is owed 45 days’ termination pay (based on the prorated version of his agreed-upon arbitration salary). The arbitration salary becomes guaranteed if the player is on the 25-man roster when the season begins.
You can’t non-tender a player after you have agreed to arbitration. Bell will easily make a 25 man roster. Why would it be reduced from what the arbitrator ruled?
Go do your assigned reading Howie and report what you’ve learned
@Laughing@you You really believe Josh Bell will not make a 25 man roster?
Think of this
The first base market is slow moving. Bell is paid a hefty salary, 8-10M in arbitration.
Others start signing for 1/5M with incentives.
Pitt has been trying to negotiate long term deal at this time with Bell. He clearly isn’t signing for their price. Bell looks fat and slow in spring training, 2020 all over, but he’s paid millions more this year
So they cut him and get someone cheap for 1/5. They aren’t competing. He’s not bringing prospects back with how he looks. Or they cut him and sign him for cheaper, saying you aren’t as good as you’re being paid. If they do it March 29. Who has 10M and a hole at 1B, short of an injury, the day before opening day? They can put whatever in front of him. “Take the money or sit and wait at home”
There are many many ways he is not in Pitt on opening day. And yes, some are financial
He was- REALLY BAD- last year.
Aguilar has had one good season. Bell can easily bounce back. 60 games is not a full season. You are not going to non-tender a guy over 60 games.
Who gives a F about Aguilar
His market has no bearing on Josh Bells Covid market with a horrible platform. It’s a new market buddy. Get used to it
I like how your justification that Bell would get 10M is a guy who was better, in a better market with more cash available. And got less than 3M guaranteed.
Stop thinking with your heart. It’s a business Howie
I’m not comparing Bell to Aguilar. How is Aguilar better?
Look at their platform seasons. Both sucked. Ok
Before that, Aguilar has posted better number and a higher war than Bell in prior 2 years
Even if you are insistent Bell is better. You think he’s 5x better, to justify the 10M you want to give him? Just 2 years apart? That’s ridiculous
No one has agreed to arbitration.
Teams have until December 2 to decide whether to tender a contract to players, such as Josh Bell, who lack a guaranteed contract. The player becomes a free agent if he is not tendered a contract. If a contract is tendered to an arbitration-eligible player, the parties enter the arbitration process.
You need more skills than just power to stay at the ML level. Chris Carter hit 40 bombs, was DFAed and was out of baseball soon after because he played bad defense, had no versatility, and couldn’t get on base to go along with that power.
Josh Bell is not Chris Carter.
Chris Cartrer posted a career wRC+ of 110 in 750 games while racking up 3.1 fWAR (including 3.8 fWAR in 688 games through his age 29 season):
Josh Bell has posted an wRC+ of 114 in 552 games while racking up 3.5 fWAR. through his age 27 season:
Chris Carter is not on a Major League roster because he strikes out all the time. Josh Bell doesn’t. Last season was an anomaly for him. A return to his career average SO% and he will be fine.
I gave him 3 replies to correct himself before I started insulting him. He continued to increase the insults toward me with incorrect information. I even gave examples. I then corrected him
What was it that I made you look like a fool again Nebraska? Padres or something else? Clearly you got put in your place by me before as well
Here’s Nebraska, coming at me because he was wrong in the past
That was Lindor/Seager? Where you said the dodgers should trade Seager, at least one of Lux or May, plus more? All to pay Lindor more money?
Pretty sure you said Seager couldn’t lead a team to a title like Lindor could
Then started insulting me when I said that was ludicrous. Here you are again. How’d that age for you?
You are a confusing person. You believe that Josh Bell should not be in Major League baseball despite his numbers that prove he has tremendous upside. You haven’t said anything that proves he doesn’t deserve to be a starting 1st baseman.
Josh Bell would not get more than $10 million annually in this year’s free agent market coming off a negative .0.4 fWAR season (and reaching 1.0 fWAR in only one of his five MLB seasons).
All teams passed on the this year’s top American League’s closer, Brad Hand, with his $10 million salary.
As another poster noted, the free agent market will be flooded with non=tenders who will drive down salaries.
It will not be a normal offseason.
60 games isn’t a full season. He can easily bounce back. You are not going to find many Non-Tenders that have put up his kind of numbers.
Teams will look for ANY reason to pay players less
Trade him. Don’t non-tender him.
Nobody will pay for him
No one wanted a good major leaguer in Brad hand. No one is paying value for a fat 1B who can’t play 1B and had a NEGATIVE 0.4 WAR last year
Yea it’s 60 games. You don’t like it but you best believe agents and arbitrators will be looking at his horrible 2020
It’s easier to find a closer than it is to find a power hitter.
According to Baseball Trade Values, Josh Bell has no trade value (likely because of his projected 2021 arbitration salary):
Jesus Aguilar followed up his All Star 2018 season (35 HR, 108 RBI) with a less productive year in 2019.
Josh Bell followed up his All Star 2019 season (37 HR, 116 RBI) with an even less productive year in 2020.
Last offseason as a waived free agent Aguilar landed a $2.575 million contract in a market that for players was bullish in comparison with the anticipated bear market this offseason.
One suggestion is to avoid “I'” “me,” “you,” “my,” and “your” in these posts. The quote “great minds discuss ideas. average minds discuss events. small minds discuss people” has been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.
There you have it. The authority has spoken. Josh Bell has no value. He should just retire.
Josh Bell would likely have trade value at a reduced salary but not at his projected 2021 salary between $5.1 million and $7.2 million through the arbitration process.
Howie it’s all about production vs cost vs expected production
If bell comes into ST, 30 pounds lighter and moving like 19, his value goes high quite quickly. But he’s not there. That’s banking on fantasy atm.
You have to look at him for what he is now, compared to his peers. Because that is what will dictate what he is paid and by whom
Players gain and lose value all time. Neither Myself nor Muskie said he’s done and can never be a productive major leaguer again. But… he’s gotta work a little. A lot, after 2020
What does his weight have to do with anything? Projections are that Bell will hit 25+ hr in the next 2 seasons. If he adjusts and gets more patient, he could break 30+ hr again. That is no reason to non-tender him. You won’t be able to find another player like him among non-tenders.
Dude you’re asking the cheapest franchise in baseball to spend millions of dollars on a hope he can bounce back, when they likely aren’t afraid another team will come in and swoop him away, as say 3 years ago
He was out of shape and had his worst year to date. Fairly Easy to see he did not work out enough last offseason, thinking he could just repeat his career year. Maybe he didn’t think season would happen. Idk. But it’s not hard to see it
So now you have a 1B only guy, who is slower on Defense because he’s out of shape, making him a bigger negative in the field, and isn’t hitting like peak Bell. Again probably because he’s out of shape. And you want Pitt to pay him a raise on 2020?
Even if Pitt wants to keep him, they could DFA him. His arbitration price tag will be heavily fueled from a season that looks more like a blip than a breakthru. He was really only good for the first 90 games of 19 if we are being honest
So, Pitt being the ever cheap franchise, could decide the arbitration is going to be too expensive. They could DFA then re-sign him, for less money right away
Or they could DFA him, let him realize no one is paying him, and then he signs the deal they were offering. It’s a business man. They aren’t friends, especially if you don’t care about the long term relationship btwn agent and team
If they DFA him they don’t *have* to move on. But if bell won’t sign for less than 8M and Moreland will take 3M, you think Bell is coming back?
It should be also noted that Brad Hand’s next employer will be his 5th team. Why do teams keep passing on him?
No it will be 4th. Miami, SD, Cleveland, new team
first one was before he was an established major leaguer. So he was just a soft tossing RH reliever. Ok
His 2nd team ended up extended his contract. Is that passing? Negative
They then traded him in a deadline deal which at the time was perceived as a haul. To Cleveland, who had him close for multiple seasons. Passing? Hardly
They then played the market only because of a pandemic…. But fans were calling them crazy for cutting Hand at 10M, no? Before we saw the option market crash on itself?
So his team before he’s an established pitcher waived him you’re correct, then he’s extremely successful in his next 2 stops, and most fans agree he doesn’t deserve to be on the market right now. That is one stupid narrative you’re trying to push man. Teams have been lining up every deadline for the last 3-4 years for him
Hand is on the market because teams think they can do better. Teams don’t spend a whole lot on relievers. Hand is not a dominant reliever.
Bell’s breakout year in 2019 was significantly frontloaded.
G – 88; 2B – 30; 3B – 3; HR – 27; RBI – 84; .302/.376/.648; OPS 1.024; OPS+ 116
G – 55; 2B – 7; 3B – 0; HR -10; RBI – 32; .233/.351/.429; OPS .780′ OPS+ 71
I remember reading a story where a friend of his started coming to the ballpark the final week before the All-Star Game to help Bell prepare for Home Run Derby. Bell’s slump began just prior to the break. I figured his declining numbers were due to the Derby and he would snap out of it but he never did (and still hasn’t). Long-term contract? I’d want to see some production first from a guy who has a career WAR of 2.4 through 552 games. The Pirates might hope to sign him to a team-friendly deal. But if he doesn’t produce, how team-friendly would it really be?
His peripherals are nearly identical between 19 and 20 so it definitely wasn’t a matter of bad luck.
This is going to be Jose Tabata version 2
Tabata was the classic “Toolsy, great speed and hits for high average ” type player that the Pirates FO convinced themselves was going to break out, just like a similar string of players they acquired around the same time (before or after): Lastings Milledge, Nyjer Morgan.
Unlike those two upon appearing with the Buc’s big league team, Tabata was 21 years old. Neal Hunnington was possibly under the impression that he would grow into his potential shoe size as an productive player. That never happened and the team held on for far too long and all the team got out of him was a 4th outfielder played as an regular
Josh Bell was actually groomed for a big league role in the minors rather then be rushed. The team wisely decided to take it slow until Bell started tapping into that power his body was capable of producing.
The only way Bell ends up being a Jose Tabata is if his production is mediocre or worst from here on out and if the team holds on to him for too long. If he produces and the Pirates consider themselves years out from contending, test the trade waters and reel in a favorable deal. If he doesn’t produce, use him until someone else takes the 1B/DH reigns or let go of him through whatever method is deemed best (Trade, Waive, etc).
You know these are how Chris Davis contracts happen. Pittsburgh should slowly walk away and move away from the 1st baseman. Run before you have to pay him 25 years after his contract like Davis or Bobby Bonilla.
This can’t be the #pirates honestly trying trying to extend him…Can it?
Is there any way this can be a ploy to accomplish something else?
I mean come on, Boris and the Pirates don’t do extensions, ever.
Next article: after exploring a possible extension, Pirates decide to non-tender Josh Bell
Do it on March 29th to give Boras the finger on the way out
what exactly would that mean for him to get non tendered?
The pirates decide… that 8M the arbitrator gave to Bell is oddly high, when I see guys sign their new deals in this horrible market
A team can say, I didn’t like Bell in ST, was hoping he’d be in better shape. Whatever.
So they non tender him. so long as it is during spring training, it means he becomes a free agent and loses his arbitration salary.
He then can negotiate with any team, and that team gains any arbitration years in the future
You can’t non-tender a guy after you have already signed a contract.
Stop repeating stuff that is wrong
They owe his payment for however many days of spring training he stays, that’s what prorated means, but if he’s cut before end of spring training NO HIS CONTRACT IS NOT GUARANTEED
Go read the mlb article dude
The Pirates and Josh Bell have signed no contract.
Pittsburgh has until December 2 to decide whether to tender a 2021 contract to Josh Bell. There is no contract if Bell is non-tendered. At that point Bell would join a flooded free agent market.
You don’t offer a pre-abitration player a major league contract making them free agents.
No. You renew pre arbitration players for 500K and tell them to like it
Arbitration you end up going to a 3rd party. Team may not be happy if they lose. How are you not getting this?
That’s the difference between service years 1-3 and 4-6. If you go to arbitration, that contract is not guaranteed until the season officials begins. This is bell’s situation. This is the only one that matters
Non-tender means the player immediately becomes a free-agent, despite having seasons of team control remaining. It happens in late-November or early-early December
See this is why I don’t believe this as an honest reaching out to extend him. Before this pandemic, Nutting was NOT going to meet Boras’asking. So we are supposed to believe after the pandemic, where who knows how many millions were lost in 2020 by the Pirates, that NOW, Nutting is willing to pay up to Boras. NO WAY.
I plan on exploring the surface of Venus within the next 5 years. I think my odds might be only slightly worse than the Pirates.
With the exception of those few months in ’19, Bell’s ben incredibly average offensively and incredibly horrendous defensively. That’s not the kind of skill set small market teams can sign to long term deals. And in this case, the Bucs have two more of the same type (Wil Craig, Mason Martin) coming through their system.
Really, Bell’s closer to a non-tender than a long term deal. Especially if there’s no DH in 2021, then there’s no where for him to play (Moran @1B, Hayes 3B). And no, you’re not putting him out on the grass.
Given where they are developmentally, and considering cost and that he’s virtually un-tradeable, I’d send him on his merry way.
dont really understand the bashing of Bell that goes on on this site. maybe 2019 was a fluke but overall from his debut through that 2019 season his numbers were pretty solid and 2019 shows he can get hot and have a good year on occasion. i wouldnt pay him for 2019 but prior to this year his overall numbers were pretty good.
Bell needs to be a DH and an extension would have to acknowledge and split the difference on his offensive production vs his defensive liability, as well as his inconsistent performance year to year.
Right now, I’d only give him a 2 year/$12.75M extension and keep the two years the same price at $6.375M, without a pay increase. If he and the team wanted to go longer and he was willing to give up the potential income of Free Agency for the guaranteed money, I’d offer him 7 years/$55.125M guaranteed, without options- similar to the deal Aaron Hicks signed with the Yankees, with a steep discount to account for Bell’s defensive liability. $12.75M still accounting for the two arbitration seasons, $42.375M across his four free agent years.
It makes him very trade-able, which would be his ultimate value to a team like the Pirates and it puts probably 80% of his earning potential in his pocket for certain, rather than potentially losing out on that income if his production craters.
Give Yankees a call, looking for someone to take advantage of the right field porch at Yankee Stadium, I’m sure there’s a deal to be made.
The Yankees have a better option with Voit. He mashed with plantar fascitis this year. Bell sucked.
As a Pirates fan, worst decision to make for a DH player. His defense is below league average at a critical position. His offense is below (other than one year) league average. Let him find himself (if that is possible this late in his career) somewhere else. Maybe he turns into a Nelson Cruz (was never a Pirate but the methodology is there) upon leaving Pittsburgh, but he is no First Baseman! Unless NL decides to inherit the DH, he needs to go to a AL team.
It’s a Nutting PR stunt. They are not signing Josh Bell to an extension. He will be traded next summer.
In my opinion, giving an extension to a terrible fielding, decent hitting first baseman, coming off a sub-replacement level season is absurd. He’s had exactly one very good season. Especially for a rebuilding team.
Bucs should trade him if they can get a big return. This team is a few years from contending so may as well speed up the process.
Couple trade partners that come to mind are the Nationals and Indians. Both could use a slugging first baseman. Nats have money to burn so Indians might make more sense. I’m sure there are a few more teams that could use a switch hitting slugger too.