The Cleveland Guardians have agreed to a two-year, $33 million deal with first baseman Josh Bell that includes an opt-out clause after the 2023 season, our Jim Bowden confirms.
Bell, 30, spent the first five seasons of his career with the Pirates before playing for the Nationals in 2021 and both the Nationals and Padres last season after being shipped to San Diego at the deadline as part of the Juan Soto trade. Bell was an All-Star in 2019 and won a Silver Slugger last season.
In 156 games between D.C. and San Diego last year, Bell hit .266/.362/.422 (128 OPS+) with 29 doubles, three triples, 17 home runs, 71 RBI, 78 runs and 3.0 WAR.
Bell's upside at the plate is huge in stretches. He's just been inconsistent. For example, for the Nationals last season he hit .301 with an .877 OPS compared to .192 and .587, respectively, with the Padres. In his career year, 2019, he hit .302 with a 1.024 OPS in the first half and .233 with a .780 OPS in the second.
A switch-hitter, Bell has generally been better from the right side through his career, though last season he hit better as a lefty:
Bell very likely slots in the middle of the Guardians' order next season. As things stand, the best bet is he'd hit fourth. Here's what a lineup could look like:
- Steven Kwan, LF
- Amed Rosario, SS
- José Ramírez, 3B
- Josh Belll, 1B
- Josh Naylor, DH
- Andrés Giménez, 2B
- Oscar Gonzalez, RF
- Bo Naylor, C
- Myles Straw, CF
The Guardians won the AL Central by 11 games last season, finishing 92-70, before sweeping the Rays in the Wild Card Round and going to five games against the Yankees in the ALDS.
With Bell, Anthony Rizzo and José Abreu off the board, the top free agent options who could play first base are Trey Mancini and Brandon Drury.