Cubs have plenty of options at first, including Josh Bell
With all the talk swirling in the Windy City about the Cubs’ rumored interest in longtime White Sox staple Jose Abreu, one guy who’s not getting enough attention – at least when it comes to potential Cubs free agent targets – is Josh Bell.
After being packaged with Juan Soto at the deadline and landing in San Diego, Bell will hit free agency once the World Series wraps up in November. It makes sense for the Cubs to go after him, especially if things don’t work out with Abreu. Let’s break down the numbers a little better to understand the fit.
Josh Bell offers a lot of what the Cubs are currently lacking in the lineup
For one, Bell has a career slash of .262/.351/.459 and has averaged 25 home runs and 89 RBI per 162 games in his career. The season that put him on the map came back in 2019 when he became an All-Star, launching a career-high 37 long balls and driving in 116 with Pittsburgh. After drilling 27 more bombs and driving in 88 more tallies last year, Bell wound up with a power outage and ultimately had a down year here in 2022.
After slashing .311/.390/.504 with 13 HR and 50 RBI in the first half, Bell’s production at the plate fell off the table after joining the Padres. He slashed just .194/.317/.289 in the second half in an uncharateristic showing considering he’s always been around a .260 hitter when playing in his home ball park. Petco Park is in the bottom 10 of hitter-friendly ball parks, but a drop off that steep has a little more to do with just the ballpark itself.
Nevertheless, aside from the second half of 2022, Bell has always been consistent against both lefty and righty pitchers. Against lefties, he owns a .244/.334/.432, but where the Cubs could use some lefty power in the lineup, he slashes a career .269/.357/.470 with a respectable .201 ISO and 120 wRC+. Essentially, you’re plugging in an everyday switch-hitter that will produce at the plate. In 2022, the Cubs leader in runs batted in was Ian Happ with 72, so you love to see a guy average almost 90 RBI over the course of a full season for his career.
Position-wise, it’s essentially the same outlook in the field if you were to land Abreu. You can still platoon at first base/DH with Matt Mervis while keeping Patrick Wisdom primarily at third and utilizing Morel in a utility role. That’s not to say that Jose Abreu is a poor option due to his age, as he still produces, but it is worth noting that Josh Bell is only 30 and therefore, signing him to a five- year deal would see that deal expire at the age Abreu is now.
If you think Abreu will make a monumental impact in the clubhouse of a young team, maybe he’s the move. But if you’re thinking about a longer-term answer, this could be your guy.