Padres must pivot back to Josh Bell after missing on Jose Abreu
By Mike Luciano
The San Diego Padres gave up every tradeable asset they had in order to get Juan Soto and Josh Bell with the goal of making a postseason charge. While Soto came alive late in the season and played an instrumental role in their playoff push, the returns on Bell were less promising.
A former All-Star who was hitting over .300 with the Nationals, Bell hit just .192 with three home runs in 53 games with the Padres. The switch-hitting first baseman was so inconsistent that the Padres decided to make a very earnest run at signing former AL MVP Jose Abreu.
While free agency has been slow so far this offseason, first basemen like Abreu have flown off the board. Not only did Abreu ink a three-year deal with the Houston Astros, but former top Padres prospect Anthony Rizzo chose to go back to the New York Yankees and that short right field porch.
The Padres may not be left with the vast cornucopia of options they thought they had just a few weeks ago. Bringing back Bell may not be what the club went into the offseason intending to do, but it could be their best option if they want to field a complete lineup with noteworthy names hitting 1-9.
The San Diego Padres must sign Josh Bell.
With Yuli Gurriel having regressed last year, the best option that is still on the market is former Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini. However, Mancini’s production took a huge downward turn after getting traded to Houston despite playing in a hitter-friendly ballpark.
Bell gives the Padres the option of leaning on a switch-hitter that can make his presence felt from both sides of the plate. Bell is a younger player who has been a better hitter than Mancini in the last few years. He had some timely hits in the playoffs, showing that he was turning things around.
Bell is likely going to get a contract that is less expensive than what Abreu got from the Astros, so the Padres likely won’t be scared away from him if they are worried about their finances. Perhaps a frontloaded two-year deal with the option to bolt after one season could make sense for a young player like Bell and a team trying to compete.
The Padres are not going to be outbid by many teams if they make a serious offer on a player like Bell. A bounce-back year for him would do wonders for this lineup in a very tough division.