Marlins Sign Heath Bell

The Marlins signed free agent closer Heath Bell, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark.  The deal is worth $27MM over three years and it contains a vesting option for a fourth year worth $9MM.  The team officially announced the deal today.  Bell is represented by ACES.

Bell, 34, has been one of the top closers in baseball over the last three seasons, taking over from Trevor Hoffman as the Padres' stopper and recording a 2.36 ERA with 132 saves and 216 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings.  Bell did record a career-low 7.3 K/9 last season, however, so this deal (like any multiyear deal to a closer in his 30's) certainly carries some risk for Miami, especially since we don't know if their new stadium will be hitter- or pitcher-friendly.

The Padres had an interest in re-signing Bell but only to a two-year contract.  Dan Mennella of Closer News projects Ernesto Frieri and Luke Gregerson as San Diego's eighth- and ninth-inning options for the time being, though the Padres could bring in another reliever who has more closing experience.

Bell was a Type A free agent heading into the offseason, and under the old collective bargaining agreement, the Padres would've been entitled to a first-round compensation pick and the Marlins' second round pick (their first-rounder is protected).  Under the new CBA, however, the Padres still get that first round compensation pick but the Marlins don't have to give up a draft pick for Bell.  Instead, San Diego will receive the pick in the slot directly in front of the Marlins' second-round selection, so this means the Padres are slated to pick ninth overall in the second round.  Miami retains its second round pick and just gets bumped down to the tenth selection of the second round.

Bell could be the first of several big signings by the Marlins, who have linked to such major free agents as Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle this offseason as the club looks to contend in its first season in its new stadium. MLBTR's Howard Megdal correctly predicted the Bell-Marlins pairing in MLBTR's free agent prediction contest.

It was first reported by Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that Bell was close to a deal with an unknown team.  The Marlins were known to be Bell's most ardent suitors with the Blue Jays, Angels and Red Sox also mentioned as possible candidates.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports had the details on the amount of the vesting option (Twitter link).


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313 Comments on "Marlins Sign Heath Bell"


OptimisticMarlinsFan
3 years 9 months ago

1 down, 2 or 3 to go!

NickinIthaca
3 years 9 months ago

I like it because your name says it all.

The_BiRDS
3 years 9 months ago

Alright, Marlins actually signed someone.. and a pretty legit closer. Now they just have to figure out how to get the lead in a ballgame before they close it out.

Jimmy Jackson
3 years 8 months ago

…and the closer has a real name this time!

diesel2410
3 years 9 months ago

Damn! Marlins aren’t messing around! Screw the Phillies, I hope the Fish are at the top soon.

nm344
3 years 9 months ago

How? By signing an overrated reliever?

diesel2410
3 years 9 months ago

Overrated? Explain

nepp
3 years 9 months ago

Well, in a way, all closers are overrated…at least if we go by their salaries. 

diesel2410
3 years 9 months ago

Well yeah, salary wise…but he’s one of the best. Just look at the Phillies’ deal for Papelbon. Pathetic

nepp
3 years 9 months ago

As a Phillies fan, I completely agree. Hell, if his option vests, they’ll end up giving him 5 years, $63 million…brutal deal for a reliever.

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

If the option vests, hopefully it means he’s pitching well.

I think if any reliever is worth it, it’s Jonathan Papelbon…

I think Ruben should have waited a little bit longer. It’s not my money though so I could care less as long as they sign a bat of somesort.

diesel2410
3 years 9 months ago

Phillies will keep him if he’s under 3.50. Not good enough

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

Money wise, I think Papelbon got a fair deal given the fact he’s the best closer not named Mariano Rivera (arguably) I think he gets $12-$13 million dollars regardless. I don’t like the fourth guaranteed year.

Like I said, hopefully it means he’s pitching well, not neccesarily means he will, but I hope that’s the case. I’d rather pay him into his age 35 season than Bell into his 36.

diesel2410
3 years 9 months ago

I just wanna see how skinny this gets. So keep replying at will. 

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

I think it cuts off the screen at some point… at least that’s how it used to go.

athensmatt
3 years 9 months ago

You think?  I wonder if we can get to the point that it will be one word per line.  

diesel2410
3 years 9 months ago

Idon’tknowlet’stryit

dylanp5030
3 years 9 months ago

I said this as soon as I saw the deal, I would take Papelbon, contract and all, over this deal with Bell. I do not think he will be the same pitcher without Petco.

I really like him too, seems like a standup guy and does things for the right reasons, but in order for him to keep up his pace and numbers, he will have to learn to strike out more hitters, and I don’t see that happening.

sports33
3 years 9 months ago

I beg your pardon?

Tko11
Tko11
3 years 9 months ago

Disqus fails

3 years 9 months ago

OverWEIGHTED*** 

Sorry about the misunderstanding. 

Oh btw.. He’s also overrated. 

dylanp5030
3 years 9 months ago

From Fangraphs:

However, before any team ponies up for Bell’s services, I’d hope that they’d ask themselves just how much of Bell’s success will follow him if he leaves San Diego.

It’s no secret that Petco Park is the best place in baseball to pitch, and specifically, that it is almost impossible for left-handed batters to hit home runs there. After all, park effects aren’t a new or controversial subject, and there’s not much subjectivity in the data – pitchers who ply their trade in San Diego post numbers that they simply can’t post in other cities. Their numbers – especially in the area of home run prevention – are artificially deflated by the environment in which they pitch half of their games.

Bell is one of the signature beneficiares of how the park plays. In his career, he’s faced 791 batters in San Diego – 10 of them have managed to hit the ball over the wall, one for every 79.1 batters he faced. Away from the friendly confines, he has faced 1,182 batters and allowed 20 home runs, one for every 59.1 batters that have come up to bat against him. His home run prevention has been 34 percent better in San Diego than in all other ballparks, which of course makes perfect sense, given that he’s a right-handed pitcher and fly balls to right field in Petco have almost no chance of reaching the seats.

The park hasn’t just deflated his home run rate either – his career BABIP in San Diego is just .269, but his combined average against on balls in play in all other parks is .334. His BABIP away from San Diego is likely higher than his true talent level, and I wouldn’t suggest that teams should expect Bell to become eminently hittable upon signing with a new team, but the evidence shows that Bell has never been able to perform well on balls in play in any stadium besides Petco Park. At the minimum, that has to be concerning.

If Bell had been able to maintain his peak walk and strikeout rates in 2011, perhaps these tidbits would just be footnotes, but his K% fell from 30.0% in 2010 to 19.9% in 2011. It wasn’t just that Bell decided to throw more strikes, either – his contact rate jumped from 73.6% to 81.8%. Relievers are prone to variance in all status due to the small quantity of innings that they throw, so Bell’s regression may prove to be more outlier than sign of drastic decline, but it can’t be considered a good sign for his future that the one skill that should travel best took a big step in the wrong direction last year.

Bell’s never been a great command guy, but his combination of high strikeout rates and minuscule home run rates have more than made up for his propensity to issue a few walks. Unless a team also figures out how to sign Petco Park simultaneously, his home run prowess almost certainly won’t follow him to a new city, and so the strikeout rate would have to return to elite levels for Bell to maintain his status as a top-notch closer. It’s possible that his downturn in strikeout rate last year was a fluke, but is it really a good idea to bet a three year deal on a 34-year-old reliever hoping that his most recent K% isn’t a sign that he might be on the downside of his career?

wadecounty561
3 years 9 months ago

tl;dr, we’ll see if the new ballpark is a hitters or pitchers park and if Bells talents transition to south beach.

3 years 9 months ago

From an upcoming article on Websoulsurfer

Heath Bell: Park Independent
Stats & HR/9- 2007-2011 & 2009-2011

Receivers with minimum of 60 games per season

ERA +
2007-2011 – 150
Rank among relievers over period – 7th 
2009-2011 – 157
Rank among closers – 3rd

xFIP
2007-2011 – 3.20
Rank among relievers over period – 7th

2009-2011
– 3.19 – Rank among closers – 2nd

HR/9 Overall
2007-2011 – .40
Rank among relievers – 6th
2009-2011 – .36
Rank amongst closers – 2nd

HR/9 Away
2007-2011 – .306
Rank among relievers – #1
2009-2011 – .306 
Rank among closers – #1

Fangraphs should do more research before they post that garbage.

Karkat
3 years 9 months ago

Bell’s peripherals/saber stats and his road splits make him out to be pretty mediocre in my mind.

johnsilver
3 years 9 months ago

Even if some are correct and his saves are the product of Petco… If the new stadium plays anything like Land Shark did.. He shouldn’t miss a beat… That stadium falls into old Comisky/Petco/The Ravine etc.. as horrible hitters parks…

Chipper_is_GOD
3 years 9 months ago

OMG

They weren’t joking this offseason

LA
3 years 9 months ago

Its one signing and they are pretty much like the Jays. They are rumored to be interested…and that’s about it!!!

3 years 9 months ago

OH COME ON

– jays fan

Chris Whitby
3 years 9 months ago

Did you really want to pay Bell $9MM a year through his age 36 season

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

I think Ryan Madson would be a great fit for the Blue Jays if they can work it out monetarily.

Lunchbox45
3 years 9 months ago

madsons going to get 4-5 years..

i like him… but bj ryan still stings

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

I don’t see that deal out there for him. I think he’s going to have to either accept arbitration (which I’m fine with… not my money and that bullpen would be sick) or settle for three years.

He’s down to Toronto, Boston, and LAA that might be able to afford him money wise. I don’t see any of those teams giving him beyond 3 years.

Accepting arbitration might get him a better deal next year with a team like New York (Scott Boras thought he was a young Rivera), or maybe LA has some more money to spend, etc.

Lunchbox45
3 years 9 months ago

theres probably still some times off that list, but I cant see him not getting 4 years atleast..

orioles, mets could all be in play too and might be more inclined for a bit of an overpay

eyedessert
3 years 9 months ago

I get the feeling that Madson would be FAR more overpaid than Bell. Madson will most likely demand almost as much as Papelbon.

sports33
3 years 9 months ago

You’re sad about this?

3 years 9 months ago

OMG if this doesnt prove the Marlins are serious what will? So happy being a marlins fan right now 😀

Lastings
3 years 9 months ago

Savor the moment…

3 years 9 months ago

will do lol

catch21_2
3 years 9 months ago

I don’t know.  Sign a guy that will play more than sixty innings, perhaps?

eyedessert
3 years 9 months ago

They could acquire Pujols, Reyes, Verlander, Cliff Lee, and Halladay and people would STILL whine about the Marlins “not being serious enough.”

NomarGarciaparra
3 years 9 months ago

could you blame them?

JST1331
3 years 9 months ago

Its good to hear there are some passionate Marlins fans out there. Not to bash you or anything but please go to your new stadium!

nm344
3 years 9 months ago

Nice payday for Bell. 

3 years 9 months ago

woooooooooow. One of the only people they haven’t publicly be all over

JacksTigers
3 years 9 months ago

The irony.

Encarnacion's Parrot
3 years 9 months ago

As a Jays fan: THANK YOU!

3 years 9 months ago

Awesome~! Marlins are going to be a force this coming season.

bravesdude
3 years 9 months ago

Yeah , that #3 spot in the division is looking like its almost a lock for you guys .

Chipper_is_GOD
3 years 9 months ago

I lol’d

NL_East_Rivalry
3 years 9 months ago

Hey, they can still make it into the play-offs. One game decider with the Phils.

Chipper_is_GOD
3 years 9 months ago

Yep, that’s what I was thinking too 😀

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

*Braves :)

I’m still waiting for the Nationals before I decide who’s the third best team in the Division, arguably the league. I thought the Braves were a heck of a team last year. (minus the collapse obviously).

Chipper_is_GOD
3 years 9 months ago

Phillies and Braves will be in the 2012 NLCS. Book it. It won’t matter who the Marlins or Nats get, we’ll still have better teams.

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

No problem with that prediction. I think that would be a great match up. I think it would add a lot to whatever rivalry exists between the two teams.

I’m excited to see how this offseason pans out in the NL East.

NYBravosFan10
3 years 9 months ago

Much agreed. Despite hating each other teams, me and you tend to agree on a lot don’t we? Unless I’m getting you confused with someone else. All The Philly fans on here have the word “aces” in their name…for obvious reasons

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

It was “Four_Aces.” I hope not a lot of Phillies fans use that in their title, I try to be original.

MB923
3 years 9 months ago

I could be wrong, but wasn’t there a rule in the new CBA that Division winners can now play the Wild Card winner in the opening round? (Assuming the division winner has the best record in the league)?

Or was that only in discussions?

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

Yes that’s possible now. If not in the NLCS they’ll meet in the NLDS.

Completely forgot about that.

MB923
3 years 9 months ago

As I said I could be wrong. I don’t think that rule was put in place yet. I looked at the new CBA rules and it doesn’t say that, or at least I can’t really find it, but I do recall that being in discussion.

bravesdude
3 years 9 months ago

Phillie fans , I’m not trying to be mean . Honestly I’m not .

But whats so great about the Braves , and the Nats(seeing how you brought them up) is the fact that both teams are really young and will be getting even younger next year . At least the Braves for sure will with Chipper leaving . Both farm systems are fairly well stocked with talent . Both of these teams are going to be good for years .

The downside is , the Philies are fetting older , the mets have a team who may end up losing their best player , and the Marlins (who just got a little better by adding Heath bell) have some good young players but only have one great pitcher . And teams like the Braves , Giants , Cardinals , and Phillies have all proved to be competitive you have to have good pitching and defense . Offense alone won’t get you to the playoffs anymore .

Don’t get mad at me Marlins fans . You have some really good young talents . But after Josh Johnson and Heath Bell , you don’t really have much left for pitching after that .

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

My comment wasn’t serious at all, which I tried to make obvious with the “:)” so don’t take what I said too seriously.

I think the Braves, if they stay healthy, could win the division as soon as next year. They should have in 2010.

I don’t see the Phillies missing the playoffs anytime soon though. Even though they are getting older, as long as they can field an 88 win team, they’ll be in contention for a playoff spot.

bravesdude
3 years 9 months ago

No biggie . I agree as long as the Phillies , like the Braves can stay healthy , they’ll both be fine .

wadecounty561
3 years 9 months ago

we’ll see about that. can’t wait to see freeman fall off like heyward did :)

Chipper_is_GOD
3 years 9 months ago

Can’t wait to see the Marlins rotation totally fall to pieces either. Oh wait, that already happened in 2011

3 years 9 months ago

Yeah you guys did great in the playoffs this year.

Chipper_is_GOD
3 years 9 months ago

And so were the Red Sox.

Serioulsy, the playoff jokes don’t hurt us. tbh a lot of us are happy we lost out. Because it pissed off our front office and their fixing problems now.

3 years 9 months ago

What exactly has been fixed so far? Not trying to be rude, genuinely curious. 

Chipper_is_GOD
3 years 9 months ago

D.Lowe is gone, A-Gon is gone, Scott Proctor, Linebrink, and Sherril are gone. And then we fired our hitting coach.

MB923
3 years 9 months ago

Sherrill had a pretty good year. And Proctor was gone midway during the season.

imachainsaw
3 years 9 months ago

so you’re left with more holes to fill? that’s not exactly ‘fixing’ anything.

Chipper_is_GOD
3 years 9 months ago

More holes to fill?

We have a never ending list of top prospect pitchers. All our holes were already filled the second we let all the pitchers go. All we need is a SS

ZZZZZIPPP
3 years 9 months ago

WHERE IS THIS LIST THAT DEFIES THE LAWS OF PHYSICS?

vtadave
3 years 9 months ago

Yeah I always enjoy when my team misses out on the playoffs.

NL_East_Rivalry
3 years 9 months ago

If Braves got in the play-offs Phils would be celebrating another WS win.

bravesdude
3 years 9 months ago

Much better than not having to have to worry about the playoffs even before the All Star break .

bravesdude
3 years 9 months ago

All it’s gonna take is for Johnson to get hurt again . He is their rotation .

wadecounty561
3 years 9 months ago

Javier did pretty damn well at the end of the season, Ricky and Anibal can be pretty hit and miss but when they’re in a groove they do some serious work. so no, Johnson is not our rotation, he’s our heart of our rotation but not when he’s on the DL.

bravesdude
3 years 9 months ago

Freddie and Jason’s approach on the ball are different form each others . I honestly think that Freddie’s career could be better than Jason’s .

NL_East_Rivalry
3 years 9 months ago

more consistent yes. If Heyward doesn’t fix his problems, he wont be the wonder boy, but he has a lot more potential. Maybe not far more or way more, but a lot more.

3 years 9 months ago

So the Red Sox will finish 4th?

Amish_willy
3 years 9 months ago

Did you know that the 641 runs the Braves scored in 2011 was their fewest since 1994?

I get the Marlins jabs, if my team finished in first place two seasons and won 101 games each of those years, only to have another team in the division win the wild card and go on to win the World Series, I’d be bitter too. Some grudges never heal.  

It’s crazy, the Marlins have been to the playoffs twice and won the World Series each time. The Braves on the otherhand have advanced to the post-season 17 times and only won the whole thing once. Or possibly better put, despite the Marlins NEVER winning the division they have twice as many rings as a team that has lead the division 16 times.
I don’t want to look too deep into the well, but the Braves don’t need any bad Karma sent their way. They end the year in 4th or 5th place it’s on your hands, dude.

MB923
3 years 9 months ago

1994 was the strike year though. When was the last time they scored that low of an amount in a full season?

wait_HOWmanyrings
3 years 9 months ago

NL east is going to be absolutely sick. Mets are the only team i expect to finish under .500

YanksFanSince78
3 years 9 months ago

Kudos to the Marlins and stepping up to the plate and showing pl they are serious.

Ferrariman
3 years 9 months ago

totally saw that coming

Tony
3 years 9 months ago

Whew!  I was doubtful AA would be this stupid, but am glad temptation is off the table.

slider32
3 years 9 months ago

AA is all talk, no action!

greengrove
3 years 9 months ago

As a Padre fan, I am extraordinarily glad we did not match that offer.

greengrove
3 years 9 months ago

Also, incredibly happy it was the Marlins who ended up signing him. 9th overall pick as compensation for a lost free agent? Thank goodness for the new CBA.

3 years 9 months ago

Seriously, just phenomenal. Looks like we’ll have two top ten picks to add to an already strong farm system.

nats2012
3 years 9 months ago

Marlins dont lose that pick. And you guys do have a loaded system.

Ohhhplease
3 years 9 months ago

Pads have the #7 and now #9…wonder if their cap increases with the number of picks.

sports33
3 years 9 months ago

They don’t get that pick.

3 years 9 months ago

Article says they get the pick in front of Miami’s. Miami didn’t have to give up a pick.

Edit: Article was updated, Padres will get the pick in front of the Marlins’ second rounder

sports33
3 years 9 months ago

They get the pick in front of Miami’s second rounder. I believe the article clarified this now, but I think it was wrong to start with.

3 years 9 months ago

Polishuk blew it. No more protected picks under new CBA, Padres pick in front of Marlins for modified type A free agent.

vtadave
3 years 9 months ago

9th pick of the SECOND round bud…

3 years 9 months ago

alot of money for a closer

mmwatkin
3 years 9 months ago

Rivera: $15M
Rodriguez: $12.3M
Papelbon: $11M
Valverde: $9M

Hell, even Joe Nathan got $14.5M over two years. Welcome to the new market for late inning guys

3 years 9 months ago

Plus look at what the Yankees gave Soriano to be a set up man.

cacavolante
3 years 9 months ago

what the yankees do in any situation doesnt really apply to a discussion involving any other team…

WasianCU
3 years 9 months ago

Seems like the Marlins got a pretty deal for Bell.  I thought he might get a little bit more with the solid seasons he has had.  Of course, if his declining peripherals the last couple seasons continue, this may turn into a lemon.

bravesdude
3 years 9 months ago

I hear lemonade is HUGE in Florida .

eyedessert
3 years 9 months ago

I hear Kool-Aid is HUGE in Atlanta.

bravesdude
3 years 9 months ago

As well as winning . Not so much in Florida though , unless you are a Rays fan .

3 years 9 months ago

Omar Infante off Craig Kimbrell…best win of the season.

bravesdude
3 years 9 months ago

That one win must seem like alot for a team that didn’t have as many as everyone else . Good for the Marlins for getting at least that one win .

Meanwhile , keep looking up in this division to see the rest of the NL east .

OaklandFan22
3 years 9 months ago

First big move

Lastings
3 years 9 months ago

Literally and figuratively

3 years 9 months ago

This doesn’t sound right. Meh at least they kept it under 30, these closers are getting way too much money.

3 years 9 months ago

It’s a terrible trend

vonhayesdays
3 years 9 months ago

splash , their goes the big winter signing, its a good one though 

CaseyBlakeDeWitt
3 years 9 months ago

Splash like in his interview on IT?

wadecounty561
3 years 9 months ago

we’re not done yet.

sports33
3 years 9 months ago

Splash is more of the sound made when Bell jumps into the pool.

nepp
3 years 9 months ago

Kinda puts the Papelbon deal into perspective, eh?  Major overpay by the Phillies.

jdt96
3 years 9 months ago

Huh, not a huge fan of the Papelebon deal but he’s younger, better and put up his numbers in much less pitcher friendly environment (park and division) than Bell. Actually makes the Papelbon deal look good

nm344
3 years 9 months ago

No.. No it doesnt.  Papelbon is way better

cacavolante
3 years 9 months ago

both contracts are dumb

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

Years? Yes. Dollars? No. Papelbon was making $12 million dollars last year.

I’m never a big fan of a four year deal for any pitcher, reliever or starter… but it’s not that much of an overpay for arguably the 2nd best or 3rd best closer in the game.

3 years 9 months ago

ty fish.

signed,
all jays fans

LA
3 years 9 months ago

How? 3 years for 9 million a year is not bad for a good closer. This is the type of deal AA should have done to improve our closer situation.

sports33
3 years 9 months ago

How sure are you that he’s a good closer?

nats2012
3 years 9 months ago

Bell is a good closer.

sports33
3 years 9 months ago

You make many good points. I’m not sure how to respond to them all.

nats2012
3 years 9 months ago

I rather have Bell over Madson, Bell throws 95 – 97 mph and has a plus curve ball.

sports33
3 years 9 months ago

I could be wrong, but I think FanGraphs had him at around 93 or 94 last year, right in line with his career average.

Phillies_Aces35
3 years 9 months ago

Madson has one of the best right handed change ups in the game. He’s 93-94 but he also induces a lot of ground balls to go along with a solid k-rate.

What you said about Bell is true though. He’s got great stuff.

3 years 9 months ago

Then why’d the Phils let him go for Pap for double?

AirmanSD
3 years 9 months ago

9 million per doesn’t seem that bad, almost wish the Padres had paid that. But in the end that still would have been close to 20% of payroll given the projected numbers.