Guardians add pop, sign slugger Josh Bell to 2-year contract

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CLEVELAND – The Guardians added some major pop to their pesky lineup.

Cleveland officially signed slugger Josh Bell to a two-year, $33 million contract on Monday after agreeing to the deal last week during the winter meetings in San Diego.

The AL Central champions were in the market for a big bat after hitting just 127 homers (second fewest in the league) last season and believe they’ve added one with the switch-hitting Bell.

The 30-year-old hit 37 homers in 2019 for Pittsburgh and has 130 over seven season in the majors.

He’ll likely platoon at first base with Josh Naylor and be used as a designated hitter. This will be Bell’s first time in the AL after playing with the Pirates, San Diego and Washington.

Embracing a patience-over-power approach at the plate, the Guardians were one of baseball’s biggest surprises last season. They pulled away in September to finish 92-70 and win their division by 11 games.

Cleveland beat Tampa Bay in the wild-card round before losing to the New York Yankees in the Division Series, when the Guardians were outhomered 9-3.

Bell split last season between the Nationals and Padres, posting career-highs in hits (147) and walks (81). For the season, he batted .266 17 homers and 71 RBIs in 156 games.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.