The Boston Red Sox are interested in first baseman Josh Bell
The Boston Red Sox are sitting in the basement of the AL East but that doesn’t necessarily rule them out from being buyers at the trade deadline. Boston is only 3.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot and they remain motivated to make a playoff push as long as they don’t fall much further out of the race before the August 2 deadline.
Any realistic chance of contending will require Boston to find an upgrade at first base. Red Sox first basemen rank 28th in the majors with a .271 wOBA and 69 wRC+ while sitting dead-last with -1.3 WAR, per FanGraphs.
Bobby Dalbec (71 wRC+) and Franchy Cordero (81 wRC+) have been among the worst offensive producers in the game at the position. The Red Sox had hoped that Triston Casas would be the mid-season upgrade they needed but their top first base prospect missed significant time with an ankle injury that stalled his progress. Casas recently returned to Triple-A Worcester but it’s unclear if he’ll regain his rhythm in time to make a meaningful impact in Boston down the stretch.
That leaves the Red Sox pivoting toward the trade market for their first base solution. Jim Bowden of The Athletic listed Boston among the buyers in his trade deadline cheat sheet. Despite their recent struggles, the Red Sox mindset is to try and improve this team and make a postseason run.
Bowden also listed Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell among the players who could be traded and mentioned the Red Sox among the list suitors who are interested.
Bell was an All-Star in 2019 when he crushed a career-high 37 home runs. His power has dipped since then but he tallied a respectable 27 homers last year and has 13 so far this season. Sacrificing some power has led to a career-high .304 average and .388 OBP.
Bell ranks third among major league first basemen with a .379 wOBA and sixth with 144 wRC+ this season, which would make him a massive upgrade over the struggling duo the Red Sox have been relying on. While Boston has been utilizing their underwhelming options in a platoon, the switch-hitting Bell can handle himself against both lefties and right-handed pitchers.
He isn’t going to win a Gold Glove anytime soon but Bell has been above-average with 2 defensive runs saved, providing a massive upgrade in the field. Dalbec (-5 DRS) has been among the worst defensive first basemen in the league and Cordero’s inexperience at the position has often been exposed.
The cost of acquiring Bell should be palatable despite the competition. The Red Sox acquired Kyle Schwarber at least year’s trade deadline for Aldo Ramirez, their No. 25 prospect at the time. Washington shouldn’t be asking for much more for renting Bell for two months. Boston doesn’t have enough roster spots available to protect all of their Rule 5 draft eligible prospects so they can afford to flip one of them at the trade deadline.
Bell would be the perfect solution for the Red Sox. He brings a big bat to lengthen the lineup and significantly upgrades their weakest position. Since he’s a rental, there are no long-term concerns about blocking Casas and they should be able to acquire him without plundering their farm system.
The Red Sox need to start winning games this week in order to warrant buying anything at the deadline but if they are intent on fighting for a playoff spot, Bell should be at the top of their wish list.