3 Offseason Mistakes That Came Back to Haunt the Guardians

The Guardians were favorites to win the AL Central when the markets opened. Then we pulled these blunders.

Signing Mike Zunino headlines the list of offseason mistakes that came back to haunt the Guardians in 2023.
Signing Mike Zunino headlines the list of offseason mistakes that came back to haunt the Guardians in 2023. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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At this point, it's not too dramatic to say that the Guardians' playoff hopes have almost disappeared. Things were already slipping before the trade deadline, then a sell-off led to a truly disastrous series against the Astros.

Cleveland was originally favored to win the AL Central when the markets first opened for the 2023 season, and things obviously have gone sideways since then. But what happened? Why the fall from grace?

Here are the three biggest offseason blunders that led to the Guardians' struggles this season.

Guardians Offseason Mistakes

1. Signing Josh Bell

The best thing I can say about how the Josh Bell signing played out is that we were able to get rid of him before that $16 million player option could be exercised for 2024. But the fact remains that we paid him $1.5 million per home run this year.

I don't want to pretend I'm clairvoyant and knew Bell would only slash .233/.318/.383 for Cleveland, but there were definite warning signs. I mean, he didn't even hit over the Mendoza line in his time with the Padres.

But it's deeper than that. It wasn't just poor production, but worrying advanced numbers that popped up last season.

Bell’s final two seasons in Pittsburgh saw him post hard-hit rates of 45.5% and 41.4%. That dropped to 37.5% in 2021 and 29.6% in 2022, while his soft-hit rate ballooned to 17.1%. 

Paying significant money and making Bell an everyday starter was a constant headache right up until we sent him off to Miami.