Although new manager Derek Shelton hasn't revealed his preferred lineup, Bell is expected to bat cleanup for the Pirates in 2020, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. With No. 3 hitter Starling Marte traded to Arizona, the team will likely turn to Adam Frazier, Kevin Newman or Gregory Polanco to bat ahead of Bell. After a red-hot start to 2019, Bell hit just .232/.342/.476 with 19 homers in his final 371 plate appearances. The switch hitter's splits against left-handed pitching were disappointing -- he slashed just .224/.313/.448 with nine homers in 166 plate appearances. Against right-handers, however, he batted .297/.387/.615 with 32 doubles and 28 homers in 384 PA. He may get pitched around, given that Polanco, Colin Moran and Jose Osuna are likely candidates to bat fifth. As Pittsburgh's only bona fide power hitter, the organization will be counting upon Bell to produce big numbers in 2020.
Bell is working to improve his throwing mechanics at first base during spring training, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. He's throwing from a three-quarters slot in hopes of making better throws from first base to second. Bell ranked last in the majors among 14 qualified first basemen with a minus-18.2 defensive WAR. The switch hitter enters his age-27 season with a reason as to why he feels he slumped offensively in last year's second half (he hit .224 after July 6). Bell claims he struggled because he went from synching up fastballs to synching up breaking balls. "I feel like if you're not synching up to the fastballs, you can't hit either," the slugger noted. "But once I started focusing more and more on offspeed pitches, I just went downhill for a stretch of time." Bell's name surfaced in trade talks, but it's likely the new management team in Pittsburgh will want to see what it has in its players before making any rash moves.
Bell agreed to a one-year, $4.8 million deal with the Pirates on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. This is a pretty solid payday for a player's first year in the arbitration process, but it was well deserved after Bell hit 37 home runs in 143 games last year. He will be subject to the arbitration process again in 2021 and 2022 before he becomes a free agent.
Bell (groin) is fully healthy and shouldn't have any restrictions in offseason training, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Bell had been putting together a career-best campaign in 2019 before a groin injury forced him to miss the second half of September. However, the team said Monday that he should be "full systems go" for his offseason training. The 27-year-old recorded a .936 OPS with 37 home runs and 116 RBI last season.
Bell (groin) will not return this season, Nubyjas Wilborn of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Bell was hoping to return before the end of the season, but the Pirates opted to play it safe and shut him down with just five games left and no chance at making the playoffs. The first baseman will be eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2020 after slashing .277/.367/.569 with career highs in doubles (37), home runs (37) and RBI (116).