Padres writer speculates team could move on from Josh Bell in offseason
By Jerry Trotta
The San Diego Padres’ trade deadline splurge was earth-shattering. While it didn’t quite surpass the Dodgers’ 2021 spending spree when they poached Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from Washington, the Padres’ went with a strength in numbers approach acquiring Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader and Brandon Drury.
Incredibly, only Hader lived up to the hype post-deadline. The left-handed closer posted historic numbers down the stretch of the regular season after a horrid start, while Soto, Bell and Drury never quite got off the ground. While the trio had their own moments of brilliance, they were few and far between.
Whereas Hader and Soto are will be back in 2023, Bell and Drury are free agents, leaving A.J. Preller to decided which player to bring back.
Both players could play first base and fill the DH role in a pinch, but Drury has significantly more positional versatility. In a perfect world, the Padres would like to keep both players, but they have holes in their starting rotation, bullpen and potentially the outfield with Jurickson Profar expected to test the market.
So what’s it gonna be? If you asked Padres writer Dennis Lin of The Athletic, he’d tell you the club should have “modest” interest in retaining Bell.
Will the Padres re-sign Josh Bell or Brandon Drury
"“For now, the Padres might prefer the idea of re-signing Drury, who could play first base and fill in at a couple of other positions — all while working on a significantly less expensive contract than what Bell will get,” Lin wrote. “Again, the market will have plenty of say in the matter. Maybe the competition for Drury will be more robust than anticipated. Maybe Bell’s struggles in the second half will lower his price considerably.”At any rate, San Diego needs options at first base and DH, and Bell can help with both spots. How much the Padres are willing to pay to retain his services is another question. They also have holes in the rotation, the bullpen and possibly the outfield . . .”"
As Lin notes, there’s so many variables to consider. Having only turned 30 in August, Bell has considerably more upside than other free agent first basemen/DH hybrids, including Jose Abreu (35), Michael Brantley (35) J.D. Martinez (35) and Yuli Gurriel (38).
Might the Padres bet on Bell’s track record and upside– he’s a career .262/.351/.469 hitter over seven seasons — and bank on him rebounding in 2023 after a poor 53-game sample size in the regular season and underwhelming October?
Preller is undoubtedly aware of what Bell’s accomplished as a hitter. Three seasons with more than 25 home runs and 85 RBI is nothing to sneeze at. The question Preller has to ask himself is why the power and efficiency disappeared post-trade and if it’d be revived if Bell had the security of a multi-year contract.
While Bell disappointed overall, he did come alive in the NLCS with six hits in 17 at-bats (.353 average) with a double, homer and three RBI. Will that late surge be enough for Preller to make him an offer? Like Lin, we get the sense Drury is higher in the re-signing pecking order than the 30-year-old switch hitter.