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A closer look at the Josh Bell return

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cleveland Indians David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

On Christmas Eve, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded 1B Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals in exchange for minor league RHPs Eddy Yean and Wil Crowe.

Time will tell whether or not this was a competent trade made by the selling Pirates. In terms of timing, the deal makes sense. Bell has two years remaining of service time before he becomes a free agent. The Pirates will not be close to competing during that timeframe. And although there were preliminary talks of a possible contract extension, deep down we all knew that that was never going to happen.

So here we are. Pittsburgh’s major league roster went from terrible to even more terrible. That said, the farm system is getting stronger. Let’s take a look at what the Pirates received in the deal.

Eddy Yean

Now 19 years old, this 6-foot-1 righty was signed by the Nationals out of the Dominican Republic during the summer of 2017. At this moment, Yean has a three-pitch mix including a mid-90s fastball, slider, and changeup.

Per Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel from a Fangraphs article in December of last year:

“Yean has stuff typical of most late first or early second-round high school arms. He has a fairly projectable frame, his heater reaches the mid-90s, there’s precocious changeup and slider feel, and Yean goes right at hitters. He was targeted by sellers at the deadline and has mid-rotation upside.”

Yean has never pitched about high-A. During his time in the minors, walks have been an issue. In 90 career minor league innings, Yean has struck out 75 batters and walked 40. Add him to the list of prospects with raw talent needing to be harnessed. If he wants to be a major league starting pitcher, the control will need to improve.

According to Fangraphs, Yean has a 40+ future value. For reference, he is slightly less regarded than the likes of Quinn Preister and Brennan Malone, who each have 45+ future value according to the site. Because he is so young though, Yean has plenty of time to increase that future value.

When might we see Yean in Pittsburgh? At this point, it’s looking like 2022 at the earliest.

Wil Crowe

At age 26, this 6-foot-2 righty got his first taste of the major leagues last September. In three starts and just 8.1 innings pitched, Crowe gave up 11 earned runs including five dingers. He struck out and walked eight batters each.

His repertoire includes a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. During his short major league stint last season, his fastball sat around 92 mph.

As far as this trade is concerned, it seems as though Yean was the centerpiece of the deal while Crowe was a toss in to help the Pirates eat innings in the short-term when things don’t matter. In 54 innings at AAA in 2019 (his only AAA experience), Crowe had an ERA of 6.17. Simply put, he’s never really been that good.

Perhaps the Pirates see something in him and feel they can help him succeed. That said, I wouldn’t expect much from Crowe.