To say Josh Bell is having a career year is a bit of an understatement. The slugger is batting .306 with 26 Home Runs and 81 RBIs a week before the all-star break. After his sensational first half, Bell finds his name at the top of the league for doubles, RBIs, as well as in the top 5 for Home Runs, Slugging and OPS. And if he plays his cards right, he could be in line for a big payday…from the Yankees.
On Monday night, Bell belted three homers and drove in seven runs — a feat accomplished by another Pirate you may have heard of: Roberto Clemente.
The difference between the two was Clemente played in the days before salary arbitration, and penny-pinching Bob Nutting didn’t own the team.
Pay him… Pay that man his money?
It’s possible that the Pirates’ organization will pony up and pay Josh Bell. In 2012 they signed former face-of-the-franchise Andrew McCutchen to a six-year, $51.5 million contract extension. But eventually, he was dealt and ended up (indirectly) on the Yankees.
Here’s the rub. In 2011 ‘Cutch’ only hit 23 HRs and 89 RBIs and never went higher than his 2012 total of 31 HR and 96 RBIs — numbers Bell looks to dwarf this year. He has three years of arbitration before he hits free agency in 2023, and he may survive a few of those while still in a Pirates uniform. But his production will demand a big payday, and we all know the Buccos don’t do big paydays. The Pirates also notably don’t handle arbitration very well either. Bucco fans will recall the Gerrit Cole fiasco of 2016.
But we Pirate fans have no delusions of grandeur any more. We’ll watch in awe as Josh Bell belts balls out of PNC park and into the Allegheny River while we can. We know he’ll be gone one day, but we’ll enjoy him while we got him.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for us!