Josh Bell Exercises Player Option to Remain with Marlins for 2024 Season
In a move that surprised few, switch-hitting slugger Josh Bell has decided to exercise his player option for the 2024 season, choosing to remain with the Miami Marlins. The announcement was made by the Marlins themselves, confirming Bell’s role as the team’s primary first baseman for the upcoming season.
Bell’s Performance and Decision
Bell’s decision to stay with the Marlins comes after a season of ups and downs. The 31-year-old struggled in the first half of the season with the Cleveland Guardians, posting a batting average of just .233 and a below-average wRC+ of 96. However, a trade to Miami at the deadline sparked a resurgence in Bell’s performance. In the remaining games of the season, he improved his slash line to .270/.338/.480 with a wRC+ of 119, doubling his home run total from 11 to 22.
While his overall season numbers were not exceptional, Bell’s strong finish aligned with his previous performances in 2021 and 2022 with the Nationals and Padres. This made it conceivable that he might decline the option and explore the open market, where he would have been one of the top first base/DH bats available alongside Brandon Belt. However, a poll conducted by MLBTR readers indicated that a significant majority of 72% believed Bell should exercise his option for a stronger platform year in 2024.
Impact on the Marlins
The Marlins’ decision to retain Bell is undoubtedly a relief for the club, especially considering they traded their 2021 first-round pick, Kahlil Watson, to acquire him from the Guardians. Bell, along with fellow deadline addition Jake Burger, played a crucial role in sparking the Marlins’ offense during the latter part of the 2023 season. With Jorge Soler, the team’s primary designated hitter, set to enter free agency, Bell and Burger are expected to anchor the lineup alongside second baseman Luis Arraez.
However, the Marlins will need more than just Bell’s return to secure another postseason appearance. The team’s offense ranked 20th in the majors last year, and the departure of Soler’s productive bat will further limit their offensive potential without external additions. Despite Bell’s one-year, $16.5MM contract, the Marlins still have approximately $20MM in budget space available, even if they plan to match their 2023 payroll of $110MM, according to RosterResource.
With the 2024 season on the horizon, the Marlins will be looking to strengthen their roster and make a push for a second consecutive postseason appearance. The return of Josh Bell provides a solid foundation, but additional moves will be necessary to bolster the team’s offensive capabilities and increase their chances of success.