Josh Bell Signs With the Guardians

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Josh Bell has signed with the Cleveland Guardians. Bell will sign a 2-year deal worth $33 million that includes an opt-out after the 2023 season. Bell will be joining Jose Ramirez and manning the opposite corner of the infield, adding another veteran bat to their young lineup.

Josh Bell’s Career

Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Josh Bell was destined to be their first baseman of the future. Debuting on July 8th, 2016, he carried a line of .273/.368/.406 with three home runs and a 108 OPS+ across 45 games. He put together two solid seasons over the next two years by carrying a line of .258/.345/.440 with 38 home runs and a 110 OPS+ across 307 games. He broke out in 2019 by hitting .277/.367/.569 with 37 home runs and a 142 OPS+ that earned Bell his first All Star appearance.

After struggling in 2020 and only putting up an OPS+ of 82, the Pirates, then restarting their rebuild, traded Bell to the Washington Nationals where he would spend the next 247 games of his Major League career. In that time, he hit .278/.363/.483 with 41 home runs and a 136 OPS+ while settling into his own as a hitter with an above-average eye for balls and strikes. The Nationals kick-started their rebuild at this past season’s trade deadline, however, when they packaged Bell and Juan Soto in a trade to the San Diego Padres.

Bell struggled in 53 games with the Padres as he only hit .192/.316/.271 with three home runs and a 75 OPS+. Despite his struggles, he still showed off his above-average eye at the plate with a 15.2% walk rate. This was Josh Bell’s first experience with free agency, and it may not be his last should he choose to exercise the opt-out that was included in his contract.

Bell is joining a young Guardians team that shocked the baseball world by winning the AL Central in 2022. He will be a good veteran presence in their locker room, and a good bat in the lineup to hit ahead of Jose Ramirez and get on base consistently. Bell is the third of the big-name first basemen to come off the board after Anthony Rizzo re-signed with the New York Yankees and Jose Abreu signed with the World Series Champion Houston Astros. Trey Mancini and Brandon Belt still remain available to teams in need of a first baseman.

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Players mentioned:

Josh Bell, Jose Ramirez, Juan Soto, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Abreu, Trey Mancini, Brandon Belt