1. Josh Bell, 1B Pittsburgh Pirates
Well, we didn’t have to go far to find our next player. And look, I get it. The Mariners just signed Evan White and have all but anointed him the first baseman of the future. But White has the athleticism to play in the outfield regularly and Josh Bell is a really good hitter.
We like Evan White. We think he will be a good player. But we know Josh Bell can hit. Now, can he repeat his insane 2019 season in which he slashed .277/.367/.569 with 37 home runs? Maybe not. But he doesn’t need to.
Bell has been a poster child of the Mariners mantra of “control the zone” in his big league career, boasting an insane 12.1% BB rate and well below-league average 18.2% K rate. He is a career 118 wRC+ hitter and is just 27-years-old.
Bell won’t become a free agent until after the 2022 season and would immediately become the Mariners’ best hitter upon arrival. Bell isn’t a flashy defender at first, or even good for that matter, so getting more PAs at DH could help his value.
Bell is going to be expensive for any team looking to acquire him. I’m not even certain Dipoto could do it without giving up one of their “big 3”. And if that is the case, Bell probably isn’t going to be an option.
But Bell could very well be worth a Noelvi Marte or Logan Gilbert type of centerpiece, especially if he shows over the first part of 2020 that his 2019 season was a true breakout and not just a career season.
Bell is a tricky fit, both positionally and acquisition cost-wise. But for a bat as potent as his, it may just be worth it. Bell could be the number 4 hitter in a good Mariners lineup that leads them to the playoffs for the first time in 2 decades. And if Seattle believes this could be the case, they shouldn’t leave much off the table in trade talks.
Obviously, there are dozens of more names we can discuss and dozens of more will be added throughout the season. But these are just 3 names that fit the profile and may be available this summer. We aren’t done addressing this topic, but consider this list a pre-appetizer on the road to what could be an eventful trade deadline for Jerry Dipoto and the Seattle Mariners.