Pittsburgh Pirates: Time is right to extend Josh Bell

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 27: Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fields a ground ball during the game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 27, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 27: Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fields a ground ball during the game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 27, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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If the Pittsburgh Pirates are convinced that Josh Bell can be a part of their future, this is the perfect time to lock him into place.

During the previous offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates had attempted to lock first baseman Josh Bell into place. He was coming off of a career year, producing a .277/.367/.569 batting line with 37 homers and 37 doubles in his 613 plate appearances. He made his first All Star Game, and at 26 years old, appeared to be ready to be the middle of the order stud that Pittsburgh needed.

While it was understandable that the Pirates wanted to lock Bell up for the future, those talks did not lead anywhere. That proved fortuitous for Pittsburgh as Bell followed that career best season with the worst of his major league career. He produced a meager .226/.305/.364 batting line with only eight homers and three doubles in his 223 plate appearances, taking a major step back in the abbreviated 2020 season.

However, those struggles have not deterred the Pirates’ hopes. They are still looking to lock Bell up to a long term extension before he reaches free agency after the 2022 season.

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In theory, the timing would appear to be curious. Bell had gone from his best season to his worst in the span of a year. As the Pirates are not exactly known for spending money, it would be logical that they would want to see if Bell can replicate his success from 2019 before handing him an extension.

But that ignores the reality of 2020. Due to the bizarre season, the truncated summer camp, and the desire to cram as many games as possible into a small window, many players struggled. Bell’s struggles from last year are not as much of a concern as they normally would be.

Those struggles can even play into the Pirates’ hand. Bell’s mediocre season could drive his price down, something that would be furthered given how many teams are slashing their budgets. If the Pirates are going to get a bargain in extending Josh Bell, this would be the time.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates want to extend Josh Bell. This may be the perfect time to get a deal done.