By Associated Press - Saturday, December 26, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo says the team isn’t ruling out a reunion with Ryan Zimmerman after acquiring slugger Josh Bell to play first base this week.

The Nationals acquired Bell, a 2019 All-Star, from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday for two pitching prospects, and Bell was introduced to Washington reporters on a video call Saturday.

Rizzo praised the switch-hitting Bell for his talent and his makeup, saying the 28-year-old “exemplifies everything we’re trying to do here in Washington.” Bell batted .277 with 37 homers and 116 RBIs but struggled through the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

“This fulfills a big part of our wish list in getting this middle-of-the-lineup bat,” Rizzo said.

It also leaves the door open for Zimmerman to return after the 36-year-old opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about his family’s safety amid the pandemic. He told The Washington Post this month he would like to return in 2021 for a 16th big league season — the previous 15 have all been with the Nationals.

The righty-hitting first baseman batted .257 with six home runs for the 2019 World Series champions

“The acquisition of Josh Bell isn’t going to prohibit us from looking for a good right-handed hitter that comes off the bench or plays multiple positions,” Rizzo said.

“We still haven’t ruled out a Zim reunion,” he added. “That skillset still fits on our roster.”

Bell said he was hardly bothered to be traded on Christmas Eve. He got a call from Pirates general manager Ben Cherington while working out with his father, and after the deal went public, the stream of congratulations from friends and family about his move to a contender gave the holiday even more of a festive feel.

“A lot of smiles,” Bell said.


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