The Cleveland Guardians signed free agent Josh Bell but will the signing limit future moves?
The Cleveland Guardians have officially signed their first major free agent of the offseason by agreeing to a two-year deal with first basemen Josh Bell to the tune of $33 million. Bell will make $16.5 million over the next two years, and he’ll have an opt-out clause after the first season.
While it’s a bit much for a guy who historically is up and down with his power, he’s not a bad signing at all and he’ll provide some good pop. So all in all, it was a good signing and one that I greatly approve of. Especially with only two years on his deal.
That’s always my concern with free agent signings, if the deal is too long, they end up hurting the team more than they’ll ever help. Like the Aaron Judge signing. He’ll be 40 when his deal ends and the Yankees will be stuck with an unmoveable deal. He’ll maybe have four or five good years left before that contract becomes an albatross. Then the Yankees are screwed.
So keeping Bell to just two years at most is a good move. That said, Bell’s addition does present an issue.
Josh Bell’s signing may have limited the Cleveland Guardians’ offseason movements
Josh Bell will provide a nice pop offensively but defensively, he creates a log jam. The Guardians may or may not have an interest in a guy like Bryan Reynolds, and a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates could still happen despite the Bell signing. That is if the Guardos are interested.
The problem comes if Reynolds is dealt to Cleveland, you will have to significantly limit someone’s at-bats. Bell and Josh Naylor are going to occupy first base and the designated hitter spot, which means should the team move for another outfielder, there won’t be a lot of other opportunities.
With Steven Kwan, Myles Straw, and Oscar Gonzalez being the likely outfield starters in 2023, that means if Reynolds does come to Cleveland, Gonzalez will likely become a bench player. Had Bell not signed, and Reynolds been dealt to Cleveland, Gonzalez would’ve been a good candidate for DH. That’s not an option anymore.
And yes, I’m getting ahead of things. As of press time, Reynolds is still a Pittsburgh Pirate, and there’s no sign that he’ll be coming to Cleveland regardless. Heck, even if he does, one of the pieces to go back may be Gonzalez himself.
That would be awful to lose a guy like him but would also make this whole scenario moot. Ideally, the Guards land Reynolds and A’s catcher Sean Murphy to pair with Bell and the rest of the Guardians lineup but that may be a pipe dream.
Getting Bell may be the only big move the team makes this offseason but that’d be ok because this team doesn’t need a lot of help.