Before the Pirates traded Josh Bell to the Nationals, the team had some cursory negotiations about an extension with the first baseman’s agent Scott Boras, Bell told reporters (including Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic). The two sides went “back and forth” on a long-term deal, Bell said, “but in regards to numbers or anything like that, I don’t think it ever got to that point.” Bell is eligible for free agency after the 2022 season, when he’ll be 30 years old.
Given how the Pirates appear to be open to dealing virtually anyone as they rebuild their team, it’s fair to wonder whether even an extension might have kept Bell in Pittsburgh — some clubs might have intrigued at having additional years of control and added cost certainty. Then again, given how Bell struggled in 2020, trade suitors might have balked at paying significant guaranteed money to a player coming off such a tough year. Regardless, Bell will need a strong bounce-back year with the Nationals to ensure himself at least a bigger arbitration raise in 2022, and to help build his case for either an extension with Washington or a notable free agent payday in two years’ time.
More from the National League…
- Speaking of Boras, the agent recently appeared on a podcast with NBC Sports Chicago’s Gordon Wittenmyer and Maddie Lee to discuss the Cubs and Boras client Kris Bryant (and former Cub and current free agent Jake Arrieta), plus also several bigger-picture issues surrounding the game. The podcast explores such topics such as the offseason free agent market, the upcoming CBA talks and the relationship between the league and the players’ union, the business of baseball at the ownership level, and much more.
- Francisco Cervelli provided the Marlins with some pop behind the plate last season, but after the veteran’s season was cut short by a concussion (that led to Cervelli’s retirement), neither Jorge Alfaro or Chad Wallach delivered much hitting-wise. However, while another catcher could still be added, it looks like the Marlins are still planning to deploy Alfaro and Wallach as the primary catching duo going into 2021, Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald writes. The team is hopeful that Alfaro can become a more reliable defensive option and also unlock the batting potential that made him such a highly-touted prospect — Alfaro has delivered some decent numbers in his young career but with a lot of strikeouts and not much consistency. Wallach, meanwhile, offers more solid glovework, but little in the way of offensive production.