Guardians made right call on trading Josh Bell last season

Tampa Bay Rays v Miami Marlins
Tampa Bay Rays v Miami Marlins / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Last season, the Cleveland Guardians received plenty of undeserved criticism for trading Josh Bell to the Miami Marlins. There were plenty of reasons to believe they made the right decision by sending him to the National League East, but too many people were caught up in the record of a very flawed and underperforming 2023 Guardians team. Cleveland's front office knew then that if they did not trade Bell, they would be signing up to pay him $16 million this season via his player option, and now, it appears the Marlins are going to have to eat most of that to jettison him off their roster.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale has reported that the Marlins are prepared to take on most of Bell's salary in trade. Nightengale would note, "The Marlins plan to trade first baseman Josh Bell but realize they will have to eat most of his remaining $16 million contract.". Considering that Bell has reverted to below career average in slash line (.240/.307/.369 in 2024 compared to .258/.344/.447) and his OPS+ is 26 points lower this season (115 career average, 86 in 2024), this is hardly a surprise.

Sure, Bell had a mini spurt upon landing in Miami, but the fact he has returned to being a below-average player on a terrible Marlins team is somewhat of a vindication for parting ways with him last summer. Now, it is very possible that Bell does go on another little run upon being traded to a new team, although it is not something that should be expected. Bell is a very streaky hitter and can have a hot week or so, but is also very capable of being an automatic out more times than not, as seen during his brief stint in Cleveland.

There are a lot of people who owe the Guardians' front office an apology for how they reacted to trading Bell last season. If the Guardians did not trade Bell away, they would be on the hook for his salary, and there is a scenario that does not see Kyle Manzardo come to Cleveland in exchange for Aaron Civale. The future definitely seems brighter with Manzardo on this roster than Bell, and that is something that needs to be accounted for moving forward.