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Report: Josh Bell signs with Guardians in free agency

Free agent first baseman Josh Bell has signed with the Cleveland Guardians.

San Diego Padres Josh Bell celebrates scoring in the 2nd inning of his game against the New York Mets at Citi Field on the evening of October 9, 2022. Today is game three of their Wildcard Playoff match. Photo by Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Free agent 1B/DH signs a 2-year, $33 million deal with the Cleveland Guardians, per Jeff Passan. Bell was involved in the blockbuster trade last summer that saw him and Juan Soto heading from the Washington Nationals to the San Diego Padres. The switch-hitting first baseman brings more pop to the Cleveland lineup that will look to compete for another AL Central title in 2023.

Bell was a bright spot for the Nationals and was unloaded as the team began its rebuild. He played 103 games for the team and hit .301 with 24 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs and 57 RBI. Bell was in the middle of a career year, and the transition to San Diego did not agree with him. With the Padres, he played in 53 games but only hit .192 with five doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI. Bell did hit .250 in 36 at-bats in the postseason, with two home runs and five RBI, so he at least showed that he wasn’t washed up. His new contract with Cleveland does include an opt-out after the 2023 season.

Bell figures to slot in as the everyday first baseman or DH for the Guardians. The position was split in 2022 by Josh Naylor and Owen Miller. Expect that Bell and Naylor will split time at first base, with the other slotting in as the DH depending on the pitching matchup. Bell being a switch hitter means that the team shouldn’t have to change their lineup based on the pitcher’s handedness. Miller will likely be relegated to a depth role for the infield.

It’s hard to nail down Bell’s fantasy baseball value for next year. If you get the player he was with the Nats, then he is going to be a sought-after first baseman, but if you get the player he was in San Diego, he would go undrafted. Bell projects as a top-10 first baseman from his anticipated role, plus being able to slot in behind 3B Jose Ramirez can’t hurt. Bell will likely be selected within the first seven to eight rounds of your drafts, depending on league size and format.