The Cleveland Guardians had been eyeing upgrades at first base heading into the offseason. While Jose Abreu had been their top priority, his signing in Houston forced the Guardians to shift to Plan B.
That plan has come to fruition. According to Jon Heyman, the Guardians have signed Josh Bell to a two year deal worth $33 million. The contract also includes an opt-out clause after the 2023 season.
Cleveland Guardians add needed power to lineup with Josh Bell
The Guardians may be adding Bell at the right time. While his overall .266/.362/.422 batting line in 647 plate appearances between the Nationals and Padres was solid, he hit just 17 homers on the season. His production also fell off a cliff when he was acquired by San Diego, those struggles coming at the worst possible time for his market.
Bell does have a track record of being a solid run producer and power threat. He had hit over 25 homers three times in his career and had hit 27 homers in 2021. That type of pop had been lacking from the Guardians lineup outside of Jose Ramirez.
He also helps in another area. The Guardians had been looking for someone that can hit lefties as a possible platoon option with Josh Naylor. While Bell is going to be in the lineup every day and will not be a platoon player, he did post an .816 OPS against lefties in 2022. He certainly helps the Guardians achieve their goal of improving the position against southpaws.
There may be another level for Bell also. He has hit the ball on the ground an astonishing amount for a player with his raw power, keeping his home run rates lower than one would expect. Maybe the Guardians can get Bell to reach that potential and turn this contract into a bargain.
The Cleveland Guardians have their first baseman. Josh Bell has signed a two year deal worth $33 million with an opt-out after the 2023 season.