The Nationals accomplished a big part of their winter to-do list when they acquired Josh Bell from the Pirates on Christmas Eve. “He exemplifies everything we’re trying to do here in Washington,” GM Mike Rizzo told NBCSports’ Todd Dybas and others during a Zoom call this afternoon (via Twitter). Bell fits the clubhouse ethos the Nats work hard to maintain while being a near-perfect on-field fit to join Juan Soto in the middle of the lineup. Ryan Zimmerman could still return to the Nats, per the Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli (via Twitter), as Rizzo notes that a right-handed bench bat remains an area of need [UPDATE: A new contract between Zimmerman and the Nationals “seems inevitable,” Ghiroli hears from sources.]
- Michael Fisher is helping pitchers take a proactive approach to retiring hitters through his data-analytics firm called Codify, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Rather than telling pitchers what they’re doing wrong, he creates heat maps to help pitchers find the right areas to target. He focuses on where they should throw the ball instead of where they shouldn’t. Fisher’s approach works for a number of Oakland A’s pitchers like Jake Diekman, Jesus Luzardo, and Sean Manaea, Giants’ hurlers Tyler Beede and Logan Webb, as well as free agent closer Liam Hendriks.
- Despite the additions already made this offseason, the White Sox could use some more rotation depth, a closer, and a designated hitter, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Andrew Vaughn could be called upon to fill that designated hitter role or to spell MVP Jose Abreu at first base. Vaughn figured to be a fast-riser when the White Sox made him the No. 3 overall selection of the 2019 draft, and he made it to High-A in his first professional season. Had there been a minor league season in 2020, Vaughn might be ready for the Show, but under the circumstances, the Sox could look for a stopgap solution to give Vaughn some seasoning time and further build their offensive depth.