Josh Bell: Early Returns of Trade Not Favorable, But This Was Always About The Long Game

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Pirates

 I was really torn on whether or not I should write this article. Seemed easy and lazy, as it was the obvious headline heading into the Pittsburgh Pirates weekend series against the Washington Nationals.

But it's something I haven't' really touched on much here, and if there was a perfect time to do so figured it was when Josh Bell made his return to Pittsburgh.

Over the last year Ben Cherington has torn down everything in hopes of rebuild the Pirates organization back into a playoff contender. It's pretty well noted on how that process goes, so we will just say that part of it was trading Bell.

You can say what you will about the trade, it was something that was going to happen regardless. Was it rushed? Answering that now is more of a hindsight kind of thing, although I wasn't a fan of moving Bell when they did.

He's hitting for power again, with 25 home runs and 80 RBIs, with a wRC+ of 111. I think the biggest thing was trading him while his value is at its lowest, after his disaster of a 2020 season. 

It looks like though that Bell is starting to look like the player he has been for the majority of his career, where the Pirates traded him for what he was in 2020. Bell struck out 26.5% of the time he came to the plate last year, the highest mark of his career.

Throughout his career, Bell had posted a 18.3% strikeout rate and it's a number he's return to in 2021. The walks haven't come back, but it's easier to forgive that with him striking out less again.

So yea, you can say that the Bell trade has been perhaps the worst under Cherington. That'd be a fair answer right now. There could have been more to the picture as well, pushing the issue on getting Bell out of town instead of waiting to see if he bounced back.

Either way, the return hasn't been great for the Pirates. Wil Crowe hasn't backed down from any opportunities, and has had some good moments in his time in the rotation, but his long term home still looks to be out of the bullpen.

Eddy Yean has good stuff, but is 20-years old and may need another year in Bradenton to harness his stuff. No shame in that, he's young and as we've also seen with Brennan Malone not every minor league pitcher's development path is linear.

Even with what I know now, I've still come to grips with the trade and don't mind that it happened. Would it have been nice to get more in return if the Pirates had waited for his value to come back? Obviously, but if we knew then what we know now, would we even be here? Who knows.

Cherington isn't going to be perfect on trades. That's impossible. Find a general manager who didn't make a bad trade and it'll probably be one that didn't stay in that position for long.

The important thing is his executing the 'mass influx of talent' in the minors so they aren't too reliant on one or two prospects panning out. The goal is to have so much that if one falters there's another to take their place. Or they can be used as a trade chip to acquire something to help a playoff push.

It's about taking more wins than losses, on the field and off of it, and you certainly can't say Cherington hasn't had more of the former than the latter when it comes to his tenure in Pittsburgh.

What are your thoughts on the Bell trade? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top of the page and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy and @__Murphy88.

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