What The Padres Can Do About Heath Bell

Against all odds, Heath Bell is still a Padre. He was a trade candidate last summer, last offseason, this July and again this August. But the Giants and Padres weren’t able to work out a deal following San Francisco’s claim, so Bell remains in San Diego.

Here are the Padres’ options regarding their closer:

  • Put Him Back On Waivers – San Diego GM Jed Hoyer could put Bell on waivers in an attempt to save $1.4MM or so in salary. This option seems unproductive – all they would get is salary relief – and unlikely. If the Padres put Bell on waivers again this month, they'd be irrevocable.
  • Work Toward An Extension – Bell has consistently said that he’d accept less money to stay in San Diego. ‘Less’ would still be expensive in this instance, so Hoyer and CEO Jeff Moorad may decide the small-market Padres have more pressing needs given their strong bullpen.
  • No Arbitration Offer – The Padres could simply let Bell walk after the season and thank him for five years of excellent relief. This seems unlikely, but it’s too early to rule it out.
  • Offer Arbitration And Keep Him If He Accepts – This would mean the Padres are stuck paying a relief pitcher about 20% of their payroll and it would also mean no compensatory draft picks in 2012.
  • Offer Arbitration And Trade Him If He Accepts – If the Padres want draft picks for Bell, they’ll have to offer arbitration. Bell has said he’d accept and Moorad has said he wouldn’t mind if that happened, so an arbitration offer seems likely. Even if the Padres don’t like the idea of paying Bell $10MM or so in 2012, they could offer a contract and then trade him if he accepts, like the Rangers did with Frank Francisco last year.

There’s also the possibility that Bell will turn down arbitration, leaving the Padres with two top picks in next year’s draft. That’s essentially out of their control once the offer of arbitration is out there, though.

Nearly half of 6,500 MLBTR readers said in a recent poll that they would sign Bell to an extension. While that would appease some Padres fans and the right-hander himself, it would create as many problems as it solves for a team with such a modest payroll. It’s doubtful that the Padres would give Bell up for nothing though, so at this point it seems likely that they’ll offer arbitration after the season and go from there.

19 Responses to What The Padres Can Do About Heath Bell Leave a Reply

  1. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

    So it really does matter how much a team can afford to spend on salaries.

  2. Posturing. I still believe, despite Bell’s comments, he would not accept arbitration. No doubt the Padres offer it in my opinion. 

  3. start_wearing_purple
    start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

    I know after you sign a player they basically get a short term no-trade clause to avoid sign and trades. Assuming he accepts arb and decides he doesn’t want to be traded, when would the Pads be able to trade him?

    • AirmanSD 4 years ago

      Unless you make a deal before the Arb. hearing. You can trade a player you hold the rights too without a contract.

  4. East Coast Bias 4 years ago

    Problem is…

    No one is going to want to give up 10m PLUS prospects for a relief pitcher (closer), when there are so many top notch closers hitting free agency this off season.

    • Like when the Soriano accepted arb from the Braves and they had to dump him for Jesse Chavez.  *shudder*

      And that was without the type of closer market we’ll have this offseason.

  5. rizdak 4 years ago

    Offer him arbitration, sign him, and then deal him to Texas for Mike Adams straight up. I’m just saying…

  6. crackpotjack 4 years ago

    Moorad said a few weeks ago that next season the payroll would only go up about 5 million to 50 million total.

    So giving Heath Bell a big contract would hurt the Padres. I think this season will be his last as a Padre

  7. Beersy 4 years ago

    Letting Bell walk for nothing is not an option for the Padres.  If he leaves they need to get something in return, hopefully draft picks the way the new ownership is willing to spend on the draft.  As much as Bell says he’ll accept arb, turning down probably close to 20 million dollars would have to be a hard pill to swallow.  I realize he wants to stay in San Diego, but at this point it doesn’t seem as though he fits into their plans and he may be left feeling unwanted.  In the end I believe his agent will talk him into declining arb and the Padres will still net their 2 draft picks for him.

  8. johnnycomelately9 4 years ago

    Bell just built a Palace in SD.  His kids go to school there, his wife loves SD, why would he want to leave SD?  He lives by the beach, enjoys the best year round weather.  Loves his team and coaches.  Is viewed as his team’s leader and the face of his franchise; and if he signs arbs he’ll make over 12 million to play baseball.  Personally I think he signs a 2 year 18-22 million dollar deal with an option for a 3rd year.  Moorad has already stated that 2012 payroll will be above 50 million moving towards the 70 range.  The bullpen is deep but there is no clear favorite for the closer role.  Brad Brach has 33 saves in the minors; but he’s had some recent struggles in AAA Tuscon. 

    • JohnPaulP 4 years ago

      Certainly there are plenty of valid reasons Bell would want to stay in San Diego.  The whole problem seems to be whether or not San Diego wants (can afford) to keep Bell.  Even if they increase payroll, any team with under a 100m/year salary paying a closer 10m a year is just poor payroll management (and I’d argue any team other than the Yankees paying a closer that money is really not all that great either.) 

      Bell’s a great and fun player, but if the franchise wants to win, spending money on starting pitchers, position players, and the draft and collecting prospects for big name guys now are going to go a lot further towards winning in the future than relief pitchers.

  9. johnnycomelately9 4 years ago

    btw if you put too much stock into Bell’s declining peripherals than you’re dumb.  Bell, 33, has a 2.55 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.34 HR/9, and 43.2% groundball rate on the season.  Those numbers are amazing.  Over the last 3 season’s he is arguably the best closer in the NL…  Moving forward he should be viewed as an elite relief option as his current production suggest.

  10. johnnycomelately9 4 years ago

    btw if you put too much stock into Bell’s declining peripherals than you’re dumb.  Bell, 33, has a 2.55 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.34 HR/9, and 43.2% groundball rate on the season.  Those numbers are amazing.  Over the last 3 season’s he is arguably the best closer in the NL…  Moving forward he should be viewed as an elite relief option as his current production suggest.

  11. surfguru 4 years ago

    One problem for Heath is that if he does accept arb., gets 10 – 11 mil, and then the Pad’s trade him, and say he doesn’t have that great of a year, or an injury, he could lose out on 20 million dollars or more.

    Now after he accepts, they could work out a multi year deal, but I do not think it is prudent to spend 20% of your total salary output on ANY reliever.

    I am in his corner, and think he deserves the money, but remember what they did to Trevor.

  12. Many reasons. At this point is his career, it would be the best time to capitalize on signing a multi year contract. His career peripherals are down, and he’s not getting any younger. It’s not like the Wii-fit is going to keep Bell in the greatest shape forever. 

  13. Matt A. 4 years ago

    Beat me to it, Mickey.

  14. keepinthefaith23 4 years ago

    He has said that, but that is in the future, not the near future.  Recent quotes say that hes aiming for something starting with a “5”.  Bell staying in SD makes little to no sense for the team, given that it will cost them roughly 20% of their payroll.  If he accepts arbitration and gets a contract there is no doubt that he will be traded very quickly.  Very sad given how bad the back of the rotation has looked of late, but that’s what trading Adams, and being a small market team will do.

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