Heath Bell is surprised to still be a Padre, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock, but he's also very happy about it. Bell told Brock that he loves San Diego and that his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES, will discuss a multiyear extension with the Padres this Spring:
"My understanding is that [talks are] going to blossom during Spring Training. I'm not going to worry about it. My agents will come here in March and they'll talk then. I like that we are going to talk. If we can get it done, great. If not, OK. But at least we are trying."
Bell, 33, earned a $3.5MM raise through arbitration, pushing his salary up to $7.5MM — the highest salary of any Padres player. He's expressed his desire to stay in San Diego on a long-term deal multiple times this offseason, and the Padres would probably love to continue to have Bell finish games for them.
Since becoming the Padres' closer after Trevor Hoffman's departure, Bell owns a 2.32 ERA through 139 2/3 innings with a 10.6 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. His 89 saves over the past two years are the most in baseball.
A multiyear deal for Bell right now would likely be beneficial to him, as he'll have plenty of competition on the free agent market following this season. Bell is currently set to join Jonathan Broxton, Jonathan Papelbon, and Matt Capps, while Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, Brad Lidge, Rafael Soriano, and others could hit free agency as well, depending on their contractual options.
Bell says he understands that changing teams is the nature of the business, but doesn't want to move from the players and coaches he now considers his family. His biggest problem may be San Diego's payroll. With payroll under $45MM, it may be financially difficult to retain Bell at even a below-market rate in the long term, as MLBTR's Zach Links discussed earlier this offseason.
From the Padres' side of things, Bell is ranked as a Type A free agent. Barring some form of disaster, the Padres would collect two draft picks if they offer him arbitration and he departs to another club.