The Cleveland Guardians have answered one of the few questions marks surrounding their 2023 opening day roster.
The defending American League Central Division champions have come to an agreement on a two-year, $33 million deal with first baseman Josh Bell, according to reports from ESPN and the New York Post. The deal includes an opt-out.
Bell, a 30-year-old switch hitter, is a natural fit for the Guardians lineup and represents a significant upgrade to their designated hitter spot. Last season, Bell hit .266 with a .362 on-base percentage along with 17 home runs, 29 doubles and 71 RBIs in 156 games between the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres. He posted a 123 wRC+ in 2022 and a 119 wRC+ in 2021, and 2.0 fWAR during both seasons.
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The Guardians, meanwhile, received a 68 wRC+ from designated hitters last year (meaning Cleveland DHs were 32 percent below league average, while Bell was 23 percent above league average), which ranked dead last in the majors, along with -1.3 fWAR. In that sense, Bell is a major upgrade that the Guardians can use to stabilize their DH spot, along with him being able to play first base in addition to Josh Naylor.
In the playoffs, the Guardians turned to either Will Brennan or Owen Miller for their DH spot, which left much to be desired, until Naylor's ankle injury forced them to shuffle the lineup. Bell's signing adds a switch-hitter to the order who gets on base at a high rate and can hit for a bit of power, making him a natural fit.
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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Guardians sign Josh Bell to two-year deal