Heading into last night’s game against the Seattle Mariners, the Toronto Blue Jays were collectively hitting to a .302 wOBA (20th in the league) and a 97 wRC+ (17th). Considering the club boasts some of the best bats in the league in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer, and Teoscar Hernandez, it is a bit surprising that the club is not higher up on the rankings boards as we head towards the end of May.
The Jays squad has had one of the most difficult schedules of the season and currently sits with a 20-18 record, which is currently third in the AL East with the surging New York Yankees squad currently at the top of the pile. While it may be a bit early in the season to start pulling the trigger on trades, nor are clubs ready to deal just yet, there are some players that just make a lot of sense when it comes to making the roster better as the season continues on.
One of those players is first baseman Josh Bell, a switch-hitting power bat who is currently with the Washington Nationals, his second season with the club. A product of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Bell was traded to the Nats during the 2020/2021 offseason and is off to a strong start to the 2022 season, boasting a .328/.418/.473 slash line prior to last night’s game while also adding four home runs, 22 RBI, and a .892 OPS.
While the headlines are being dominated by the potential availability of teammate Juan Soto this season and how the Jays may be a good fit, the likelihood of a mega-deal for the Dominican product is low compared to a deal for Bell as the trade deadline draws near. The Nationals are currently last in NL East and could be looking to continue rebuilding by trading some veteran players away like Bell, especially with how well he is playing right now.
While early in the season, potential trade target Josh Bell makes a lot of sense for the Toronto Blue Jays lineup if a deal can be made.
The addition of Bell would be considered a rental for the Jays as the Texas product is free-agent eligible following this season, which is both a good and bad thing depending on how you view the trade. Positive in the sense that the trade value wouldn’t be nearly as high if he had some years left in terms of team control but negative in the sense that a contract extension, if there is a fit, is going to be difficult with the allure of cashing in via free agency looms following the World Series.
The Blue Jays do have some lefty bats available on the squad like Zack Collins, Raimel Tapia, Bradley Zimmer, and Cavan Biggio (currently in AAA) but all pale in comparison to Bell’s 87th percentile xwOBA and 95 percentile K%. Adding his power and ability to get on base would create an even more dynamic lineup that adds some versatility with a left-handed bat in a righty-dominated lineup who can hit for both average and power. He can platoon with Guerrero Jr. at first base and be used as the club’s designated hitter while also being able to take one of the corner outfield spots if required.
Any deal for Bell has to obviously make sense but considering the two clubs have some trade history, it may be wise to go back to the phone lines to see if the Nationals are willing to deal Bell as the season moves closer to the trade deadline.