The Nationals and newly-acquired first baseman Josh Bell avoided arbitration today, coming to an agreement on a one-year, $6.3MM contract, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter). Bell made $4.8MM in 2020, his first season of arbitration eligibility. The Scott Boras client will be a free agent following the 2022 season.
Our initial projections had Bell set to make between $5.1MM and $7.2MM through arbitration, so the Nationals might have earned themselves a little extra spending money by coming to an early accord. Regardless, Bell expects to have a better year in 2021 after a relatively rough campaign in the truncated 2020 season.
Even after slashing .226/.305/.364 in 223 plate appearances this year, Bell still owns a career line of .261/.349/.466. A strikeout rate of 26.5 percent was particularly high compared to his career average of 19.0 percent. Assuming a regression to his career means, Bell should provide the Nats with efficient production in 2021 given his salary. Besides, with Juan Soto and Kyle Schwarber figuring to hit somewhere close and perhaps on either side of Bell in Washington’s lineup, Bell should benefit from the ambient potency.
Soto and Trea Turner represent the Nationals only remaining arbitration cases.