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Josh Bell, Guardians Reportedly Agree to 2-Year, $33M Contract in MLB Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 6, 2022

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 19: Josh Bell #24 of the San Diego Padres runs to first after hitting an RBI single against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fifth inning in game two of the National League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 19, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Josh Bell's stay with the San Diego Padres was a brief one. The veteran first baseman agreed to a two-year, $33 million deal with the Cleveland Guardians, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

The deal reportedly includes an opt-out.

Many expected Bell to be moved as the 2022 MLB trade deadline approached. The Washington Nationals were mired in last place, so it made little sense to keep an experienced first baseman who was headed to free agency in the offseason.

Bell's inclusion in the Juan Soto deal came as a surprise, though. Not only were the Padres getting a generational talent with Soto, but they also managed to strengthen another area of weakness. San Diego made a clear offensive upgrade over Eric Hosmer, and it was merely a footnote in a historic swap.

Cronko Tonko @cdgoldstein

Josh Bell has a top-15 DRC+ in the league and he was a throw-in. I'm cackling.

Bell's raw power numbers across the 2022 season reflect the larger trend across MLB, but the advanced stats show he has remained an above-average slugger.

In 156 games between the Nationals and Padres, the 30-year-old had 17 home runs, 71 RBI and a .266/.362/.422 slash line. Per FanGraphs, he also boasted a .344 wOBA and 123 wRC+, as he put together one of the best seasons of his career.

Bell certainly picked a good time to rake at the plate as free agency loomed on the horizon, though his performance wasn't a significant outlier. He has slugged .459 with a .810 OPS and 120 OPS+ in seven seasons.

The 2020 campaign appears to be the one outlier. He had a .226/.305/.364 slash line that year, which can be attributed partially to the shortened season and general difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While he wasn't the most prized free agent on the market, Bell figured to be in a nice position to cash in. Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter pegged his value at $60 million over four years in June.

In Bell, Cleveland landed a piece that should help the lineup in a big way.