Josh Bell is a perfect fit for the Cleveland Guardians in a lot of ways
The Cleveland Guardians entered this offseason in need of a right-handed power bat, primarily at first base, and they've acquired just that in Josh Bell. The move is perfect for Cleveland in a lot of ways, starting with the fact that it's just a two-year deal worth $33 million.
From a financial standpoint, it allows the Guardians to remain flexible over the next few seasons. And even though Bell has an opt-out clause after next season, there is still a good chance Cleveland will get plenty of value out of this contract.
First and foremost, Bell does provide that much-needed pop in the Guardians lineup. Though he hit just 17 home runs last season between Washington and San Diego, Bell did hit 37 homers in 2019 with the Pirates, his lone All-Star season. And while he cooled off considerably after being acquired by the Padres, hitting just .192 in 177 at-bats, the 30-year-old slashed a very solid .266/.362/.422 overall with 29 doubles and a 128 OPS+.
But it isn't just the power that Cleveland covets. Bell fits the mold of a Cleveland hitter by being patient at the plate and hardly ever striking out. He struck out just 15.8% of the time in 2022, his best mark since his 2016 rookie season. And Bell started walking even more last season, upping that percentage to 12.5%. He's far from being just a power bat.
Bell is also a switch-hitter who has good splits from both sides of the plate. So now, manager Terry Francona has the ultimate roster flexibility in that Bell will no doubt hit against lefties and play first, but he can DH against righties too, allowing Josh Naylor to remain at first base.
The Guardians have just acquired a player who has a career 116 wRC+ and is more than capable of carrying an offense for weeks at a time. During his hot stretches, Bell could very easily be one of the most-feared bats in the league. He'll probably fall somewhere in the middle when it's all said and done, but hey, he's also playing for one more big contract in his career. There is plenty of incentive for Bell to put together a massive year or two, something Cleveland is no doubt counting on.
The Guardians had a few major priorities heading into this offseason, and signing Josh Bell checks off perhaps the biggest box of all. There are likely more moves to be made, but Cleveland is really solidifying itself as a team ready to contend.