Mariners Free Agency Target: Josh Bell at First Base
I’m going to try and avoid repeating myself in most of these articles. The Mariners need hitting. We all know that. There is a player available that I was hoping they were going to go after at the deadline, and I think he would be a great addition to the team. With Carlos Santana likely gone, getting someone like Josh Bell would be a welcome upgrade.
The Mariners have a lot of moving pieces, but Josh Bell could easily fill that void at DH while getting a bit of time at 1B as well. Ty France hasn’t shown an ability to stay healthy, so there is likely to be a stretch or two where the Mariners need a legit player to fill in at 1B.
Josh Bell would be a great bat to add to the Mariners Lineup in FA
He was having a career year in 2022 while with the Nationals, doing incredibly well on the worst team in baseball on his one-year prove it deal. He hit .301/.384/.493 in his 103 games with Washington. Added into the Soto deal to the Padres, he really struggled in the regular season with them. Which seems to happen a lot when people get sent there.
I know this would be quite similar to acquiring Adam Frazier. A guy who used to play in Pittsburgh, was traded to the Padres, and then comes to the Mariners. Hopefully, it would have better results. Unlike Frazier, Josh Bell has actually been incredibly consistent. Check out his slash lines since he came into the league.
- 2016 – .273/.368/.406. 775 OPS. 108 OPS+. 45 G
- 2017 – .255/.334/.466. 800 OPS. 109 OPS+. 159 G
- 2018 – .261/.357/.411. .768 OPS. 111 OPS+. 148 G
- 2019 – .277/.367/.569. .936 OPS. 142 OPS+. 143 G
- 2020 – .226/.305/.364. .664 OPS. 84 OPS+. 57 G (short season, tossing it)
- 2021 – .261/.347/.476. .823 OPS. 124 OPS+. 144 G
- 2022 – .266/.362/.422. .784 OPS. 128 OPS+. 156 G
Another big factor is his health. He doesn’t really miss games. You can see his fewest came in 2019 when he played 143. (2020 was the short season and his 57 games projects to 154 games). He’s going to miss a week or two each year, but that’s it. There are no worries about a month-long injury history repeating itself with him, which is important.
He’s had big power seasons like 2017, 2019, and 2021 when he hit 26, 37, and 27, respectively. He’s also had low power seasons when he hit 12, 22, and 17 (2018, 2020 projected, and 2022). I think it’s reasonable to expect HR in the low 20’s with him, as he averages 25 HR per 162 G played. It’s also funny to me that it’s an every-other-year power thing with him. Maybe we could expect the low 30s in 2023?
He’s not a good defender but has gotten better later on in his career. We’ve all seen Perry Hill turn the Mariners into something special, so maybe he could make Bell an average defender whenever they need him at 1B.
If we could get something along the lines of .265/.355/.465 from Bell, with good pop (~25 HR), signing him to a deal just north of $10 million a year for a few years would be a good signing. Maybe 2YR/$20M, with some incentives thrown in, and a mutual option for a 3rd year at $12 million with a $2 million buyout? Yeah, let’s go with that.
The Mariners should sign 1B/DH Josh Bell to a 2YR/$20M deal with a third-year mutual option
I know there are bigger names out there. Nimmo, Aaron Judge, and the Shortstops. If any of those fall through or they decide to go elsewhere, Josh Bell could be a nice value addition to the Mariners to help improve their offense.