Bell Will Accept Arbitration Offer If No Extension

8:38pm: Padres owner Jeff Moorad told XX1090 sports radio that they don't mind if Bell accepts arbitration after the season. "In some ways [it's] even preferable from our point of view … We certainly don’t mind going to year-to-year, though we are willing to guarantee a couple of years with him." 

Dan Hayes of The North County Times passed along Moorad's quotes (Twitter links).

7:49pm: The Padres did not move closer Heath Bell prior to yesterday's trade deadline, instead keeping the right-hander with hopes of signing him to an extension or getting two draft picks after the season. The latter will not be possible though, Bell told Bill Center of The San Diego Union-Tribune that he intends to accept arbitration after the season if the two sides have not worked out a contract extension…

"If I don't have a multi-year deal and they offer me arbitration, I will accept arbitration," said Bell. "My wife and I talked about all the scenarios last night … There is no downside to me accepting arbitration and the family staying in San Diego for at least another year. My kids love it here. My family is happy here. And I'm in a position where I can make some decisions right now … The ball is in my court. I want to stay in San Diego. And I want to win here."

Bell, 34 in September, has indicated a willingness to take a discount to stay in San Diego long-term. He comfortably projects to be a Type-A free agent, but with a $7.5MM salary this season, an arbitration award could push his 2012 earnings north of $10MM. Here's what the right-hander said about terms of a potential contract extension…

"I'd like to get a three-year contract with the Padres," said Bell. "But I think I'm in position to come back no matter what … If they offered me three years at $27 million, we'd talk. If they offered me three years at $30 million, I would really have to consider it. Maybe I could get an All-Star bonus. I'd like that."

Center says the team is willing to discuss a two-year contract with an option for a third year. Bell is still highly effective, pitching to a 2.28 ERA and 30 saves in 32 chances, but it's worth nothing that his strikeout rate has plunged more than four full strikeouts per nine innings this season (from 11.1 to 6.9), and left-handed batters have handled him well. A three-year contract would take him through age 37.

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