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Juan Soto Rumors: Nationals GM 'Focused' on Trading Josh Bell Before Dealing Star

Doric SamJuly 25, 2022

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Washington Nationals have the most coveted player on the trade market in star right fielder Juan Soto, but another slugger on the team is also reportedly drawing interest.

Andy Martino of SNY reported Monday that the Nationals are fielding calls for first baseman Josh Bell with the hope of making a deal before finding a landing spot for Soto.

"One league source with knowledge of Bell’s market estimated that five teams were pursuing him, the Astros, Brewers and Mets among them, and that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was focused on completing a deal so he could move on to trading superstar Juan Soto," Martino wrote.

A 29-year-old switch hitter, Bell is slashing .305/.388/.496 with 13 home runs and 51 RBI in 96 games. He's the only every-day starter on the team with a batting average of at least .285.

Bell is in his second year with Washington after spending the first five seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He's set to become a free agent after this season. Martino noted "there's a sense around the league that Bell is soon to move."

While the Nationals appear to be focused on dealing Bell, the market for Soto is also reportedly heating up. Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Sunday that the St. Louis Cardinals "are viewed by rivals as a potential front-runner" to land the 23-year-old. He's also reportedly being pursued by the New York Mets, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners.

The Cardinals are believed to have the edge over other teams in trade discussions because of their strong farm system.

"The Nats are an organization that relies heavily on scouting, and there's word they like a lot of the Cardinals' young players and prospects," Heyman and Sherman wrote. "The Cardinals line up for what the Nationals want—not just prospects, but young, controllable players already in the majors."

If the Nationals move Soto and Bell, it will kick off a massive rebuild. Washington (32-65) is in last place in the NL East and could use some changes.

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