Bell Signing with Guardians

Bell Signing with Guardians
(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

Switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell is reportedly signing with the Cleveland Guardians for two years and $33 million. Bell was in the midst of an excellent season in 2022 for the Washington Nationals prior to being traded to the San Diego Padres. For the Nationals, Bell was slashing .301/.384/.493 with 14 home runs and an OPS+ of 153. After the trade, Bell slashed .192/.316/.271 with 3 home runs and an OPS+ of only 75. But Bell always has a way to maintain plate discipline through tough times. Even when his batting average dropped over 100 points, his on-base percentage dropped less than 70. In 2022, Bell accumulated the most walks of his career with 81. He also only struck out 21 more times than he walked. So, Bell is a very tough out and will not chase a lot of pitches that are out of the zone.

Prior to the trade to the Padres, it seemed like Bell was on his way to earning a larger payday than two years and $33 million. But this situation cannot be entirely new to Bell. In 2019, he hit 37 home runs, notched 37 doubles, drove in 116 runs, scored 94 runs, and walked 74 times as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The next season was the dreaded COVID-shortened season. In 2021, Bell found himself in Washington D.C. as a member of the Nationals. After having a season and a half of success with the Nationals, and a partial season of failure with the Padres, Bell will look to rebound with the Guardians. The caveat for the Guardians fans is that Bell does have an opt-out in the deal.

Mid-Season Move by Guardians Prior to Bell Signing

There is a move that the Guardians made during the 2021 season that may have opened the door for the Josh Bell signing. The Guardians were allowing Bobby Bradley an opportunity to start at first base but it did not pan out. So they designated him for assignment. Bradley struck out 108 times in 262 at-bats between 2021-2022. Josh Naylor, on the other hand, improved from 2021-2022. Naylor’s OPS+ rose from 91 in 2021 to 121 in 2022. This can mainly be attributed to a 53-point increase in slugging percentage. So Naylor will likely see more playing time in the outfield and perhaps at designated hitter.

For Bradley, it is difficult to say what is next for the slugger. Bell will command the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. But with the surprising midseason departure of outfielder and designated hitter Franmil Reyes in 2021, there may an opening for Bradley at designated hitter. Regardless of what the Guardians decide to do, Bell brings a lot to the table and should fit in nicely.

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Players Mentioned:

Josh Bell, Bobby Bradley, Josh Naylor, Franmil Reyes

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Chris Gray

Chris Gray

Chris is a writer, philosopher, and web developer. He is currently the Web Developer as well as an Editor and Contributor for SportRelay.

When Chris was young, he played Little League Baseball for years. In addition, he used to look at the statistics on baseball cards to compare the different players and trade the cards with his friends. As a teenager, he worked as a Computer Technician until he landed a position as a Network Administrator at a middle school in Los Angeles, California.

Feeling unfulfilled with a lack of education to combine with his work and life experience, he returned to school, obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from UCLA, and now spends his time writing, investing, thinking, programming, and enjoying baseball.

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