Boston Red Sox

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 10: Josh Bell #19 of the Washington Nationals hits a three run home run in the sixth inning during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on June 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

  • First base has been the Red Sox’ most glaring offensive problem throughout the 2022 season, so they’d be wise to add at the position at the trade deadline. Could they possibly look at one of the better options on the board?

    A new column in The Athletic posits that the Red Sox could be one of several teams “in the mix” for Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell. The story mainly reads like speculation, rather than a concrete report. But the Red Sox certainly make sense as a suitor for Bell’s services, considering their positional need and newfound wealth of assets in their rebuilt farm system under Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom.

    Bell is batting .311 this season with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs in 93 games, a 23-87 pace. And yes, his current HR-RBI total is better than Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero combined (11-46). Bell’s .390 on-base percentage is on pace to become a new career-high.

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  • The aforementioned Dalbec and Cordero have yet to tap into much of whatever upside they had. They’ve combined for a positively stinky slash line of .214/.292/.357. That would be an on-base percentage of .292 and slugging percentage of .357.

    So, while Bell may not be an MVP candidate at first base, he’d represent a massive improvement over the futile Dalbec/Cordero platoon at the plate. He’s a switch-hitter who’s historically been better from the left side, but this season, his OPS is .898 as a lefty and .890 as a righty. He’s hit eight homers from the left side and five from the right. Point is, he could play every day.

  • Here’s what The Athletic’s Chad Jennings had to say about the Red Sox’ potential interest in Bell:

    For a manager like Alex Cora, a switch hitter could open any number of batting order possibilities. As usual, though, it’s a question of price. The Red Sox have a pretty good lineup as it is. Would Bell extend the gap between them and the rest of the teams besides the Yankees in the American League East? How much of the future would Chaim Bloom sacrifice for such a two-month upgrade for a wild-card spot?

    Bloom hasn’t exactly operated like a GM (sorry, Chief Baseball Officer) who’s looking to make a relatively big move. Bell seems likely to be traded somewhere, and while the move won’t be seismic in nature, Bell is good enough to deliver an appreciable boost in production for a team in need of a productive first baseman. But it’s hard to believe that Bloom is willing to part with what it might take to bring Bell to Boston.

    The Red Sox would certainly rank at or near the top of the league in the “needs a first baseman” department. They are dead-last in baseball with a .604 OPS by first basemen. That simply shouldn’t be an acceptable standard for a franchise like the Red Sox.

    And yet, Bloom seems more interested in making another one of his patented buy-low moves. They’ve reportedly talked to the Mets about first baseman Dominic Smith, who two years ago finished 13th in MVP voting, but has since bounced back and forth between the majors and the minors. Smith is batting .194 with zero home runs and a .560 OPS so far in the 2022 season.

    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Dominic Smith #2 of the New York Mets gestures to his teammates after he hit a game-winning walk off single in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during game one of a doubleheader at Citi Field on June 25, 2021 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Phillies 2-1 (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 25: Dominic Smith #2 of the New York Mets gestures to his teammates after he hit a game-winning walk off single in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during game one of a doubleheader at Citi Field on June 25, 2021 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Phillies 2-1 (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

  • So, if you’re a Red Sox fan, I wouldn’t exactly hold my breath on Bell. I’d brace myself for someone like Smith. But if Bloom is serious about making a real upgrade to the lineup and to a position of desperate need, he certainly has enough trade chips to land Bell.

    Not to mention, it would make Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers happy.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.