Heath Bell Rumors

AL Notes: Fister, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays

Whenever there’s a trade that fans perceive as being one-sided, fans will often wonder why their team didn’t get involved in negotiations. The beginning of a recent SportsNet.ca interview with Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos shows why that might not be as easy as it sounds. Anthopoulos says Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told him that the Jays simply didn’t have the players he wanted in a trade for Doug Fister. Detroit eventually sent Fister to the Nationals for Ian Krol, Steve Lombardozzi and Robbie Ray. That Dombrowski apparently didn’t think the Blue Jays could beat that package might seem surprising, but it appears the Tigers simply had a very clear idea what they wanted, and it wasn’t possible for the Jays to enter a higher bid. Here are more notes on the AL.

  • The Orioles didn’t have an easy time dealing Jim Johnson, a source tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Other teams weren’t eager to trade for a closer making a hefty salary, so the offers the O’s received were underwhelming.
  • The Orioles would give up their first-round draft pick — No. 17 overall — if the right free-agent opportunity presented itself, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. That means that, if they’re willing to open their wallets, they could be contenders for players like Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz, both of whom rejected qualifying offers.
  • The Rays are hopeful that they can fix newly-acquired reliever Heath Bell, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “His stuff is virtually as good as when he was a dominant closer with the Padres (2009-11),” says executive vice president Andrew Friedman. “He missed a lot of bats last year. He commanded the ball better than he had in previous years. He’s just got a lot of things in place that give him a chance to be really good, and it’s about trying to sync them all up.”

Kevin Towers On Heath Bell Trade

Earlier today, the Diamondbacks completed a three-team deal with the Rays and Reds which saw Tampa Bay acquire catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Reds and Heath Bell from Arizona.  The D'Backs didn't get big time talent back in the trade, but they unloaded $5.5MM of the $6MM they owed to Bell in 2014.  I asked Arizona GM Kevin Towers what he might do with his newfound financial flexibility.

"We still got some bench pieces that we need to put together, we still have interest in bringing back Eric Chavez as a guy who was a key bench player on the club last year.  We also want to add depth to our starting pitching, a No. 1 or a No. 2 [type], that would probably come via trade.  We have some free agents [that we like], but we'll probably be more aggressive on the trade front.  Also, with Cody Ross coming back from the hip injury, we'll also look into a corner outfield bat," Towers said on this afternoon's conference call.

Without giving exact figures, Towers said that the payroll in 2014 will be "well above where it was last season."  Arizona's opening day payroll was roughly $86.3MM, putting them right around the middle of the pack.

It's safe to say that Bell's tenure in Arizona didn't work out exactly as Towers & Co. had hoped.  Despite that, the GM says that he's still hopeful that the 36-year-old can be a contributor for the Rays.

"Bell's velocity is still very good, his average velocity was very comparable to what we saw in San Diego and what it was in Florida…For Heath its all about location," Towers explained. "He's able to hit his spots..but the thing I saw, he didn't land his curveball as effectively as he did in San Diego.  He had a 12-6 curveball to set up his fastball…I still think he has a lot left in the tank, one thing I've always liked about him is that he has a very resilient arm."

Towers admitted that he was sorry to see left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg go, but he said that he wouldn't have been able to secure the same kind of return without his inclusion.  That return, of course, includes more than minor league righty Justin Choate – it means the millions in financial relief and a player to be named later.  That PTBNL from Tampa Bay, Towers said, will probably be the key player in the trade from his side.  Towers added that the player cannot be disclosed now because of "administrative reasons," indicating that the player has already been agreed upon.

Even after moving Bell, who finished 32 games for the club last season, Towers said that he "won't be real active" in finding bullpen help.  Whatever needs he has, he'll look to find solutions internally.  The GM acknowledged that Randall Delgado could go to bullpen if he lands a rotation upgrade.  KT will also seek out "another multi-inning guy" besides Josh Collmenter.  As for the closer role, Towers declined to name a favorite at this stage of the offseason.

In addition to the trade talk, Towers also fielded questions on the club's decision to non-tender Daniel Hudson.  Even though the D'Backs have now lost their exclusivity with the pitcher, Towers sounds hopeful that the two sides will still hammer out a deal. 

"I think we kind of ran out of time…I'd like to say we were at the five yard line or inside of that, so my hope is that we will come to a resolution and he will be a Diamondback in the very near future.  We just weren't able to finalize anything by 10 o'clock the other night," Towers said, adding that he could see an agreement happening in the next couple weeks.  "I think both sides still want this to happen."


Rays Acquire Ryan Hanigan, Heath Bell In Three-Team Deal

The Rays, Reds and Diamondbacks successfully completed a three-team trade today, the teams have announced. Tampa Bay acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan (and promptly extended him) from the Reds and Heath Bell (pictured) from the Diamondbacks. The Reds will receive left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks. Arizona, meanwhile, was able to shed Bell's salary and will receive minor league righty Justin Choate as well as a player to be named later or cash from the Rays.

Bell-Heath

It was expected that Cincinnati would move Hanigan since they agreed to a two-year deal with Brayan Pena.  The 33-year-old had the worst season of his career in 2013, batting just .198/.306/.261 and tying a career-low with two home runs. 

Hanigan will give the Rays three catchers with Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina already in the fold if Lobaton is not one of the outgoing players.  Molina is staying in Tampa Bay after agreeing to come back on a two-year, $4.5MM deal last month.

Hanigan has long been known as a patient hitter that is tough to strike out, as evidenced by a career 12 percent walk rate and 10.1 percent strikeout rate.  He also has a reputation as a solid defensive backstop, having led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent).  He is also regarded as one of the best in the game at pitch-framing, a skill that he has in common with new teammate Molina.

Bell, 36, is owed $9MM this year in the final season of an ill-fated three-year pact he inked with the Marlins prior to the 2012 campaign. However, Miami is on the hook for $3.5MM of that figure, so the Rays have him for $5.5MM in 2014 while Arizona has him off the books. Bell rebounded from a dreadful 2012 campaign, to an extent, this past season. The veteran closer posted a 4.11 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Bell saw improvements in his strikeout rate, walk rate and swinging-strike rate, giving the Rays hope that his so-so results were the product of unnatural BABIP and HR/FB marks.

Holmberg, 22, has spent most of the last two seasons at Double-A Mobile, where turned in a 2.75 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 26 starts this past season.  The lefty, who made his lone big league appearance on Aug. 27 vs. the Padres, was ranked as the No. 6 prospect in Arizona's system by Baseball America after the 2012 season.  Baseball America thinks highly of Holmberg's control and likes his chances of reaching his ceiling of becoming a No. 3 or 4 starter.

Choate, 22, posted a 2.88 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 40 2/3 in short-season Class-A this past year. It was the Stephen F. Austin State University product's first year of professional ball, as he signed with the Rays on a minor league deal out of independent baseball.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that Hanigan was going to the Reds in a three-team deal (Twitter link). John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer later tweeted that the Diamondbacks were the third team involved. The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro was the first to report the involvement of Bell and Holmberg (Twitter links). Rosenthal added that Holmberg would go to Cincinnati. Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reported that the Rays were the ones acquiring Bell (Twitter link). MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reported that Choate and a PTBNL or cash were headed to Arizona (on Twitter). Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted the financial details. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that the PTBNL is not on Tampa's 40-man roster. 

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Placed On Waivers: Gallardo, Morse, Bell, Lopez

Here's Monday's list of players that have been placed on revocable trade waivers…

  • Yovani Gallardo — Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) reports that Gallardo has been placed on waivers by the Brewers.  The starter drew interest this summer as a player who could help not just for 2013, but beyond, as he is under contract for $11.25MM next season with a $13MM club option for 2015.  Gallardo is having a down year, but he has had two strong starts against the Reds this month since coming off of the DL.  For his career, Gallardo owns a 3.76 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
  • Mike Morse — Rosenthal also reports that Morse was placed on waivers by the Mariners.  Morse's teammate, Kendrys Morales, was claimed off of waivers earlier today, giving Seattle two bats to dangle to interested clubs.  Will either player be moved?  We can surmise that the M's held on to impending free agents like Morse, Morales, and Raul Ibanez with the idea of retaining them beyond this season.  On the year, Morse owns a .227/.282/.414 slash line with 13 homers in 301 plate appearances – down from his career line of .285/.338/.480.
  • Heath BellJon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Bell, 35, has been placed on waivers. He came to the Diamondbacks from the Marlins this offseason in a three-team trade that also included the A's. Bell has rebounded, to an extent, from a rough 2012 season that saw him post a 5.09 ERA in his only season with the Marlins. He's pitched to a 3.88 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. His HR/FB ratio is at a sky-high 17.2 percent, which has bloated his ERA. xFIP predicts that with a league-average HR/FB rate (roughly 11 percent), Bell would have an ERA of 3.05. His K/BB numbers and the fluky nature of high HR/FB rates suggest he's in for some improvement in the ERA department, but he's under contract for $9MM this season and again in 2014. The Marlins are picking up $8MM of that salary, but he'd be an expensive acquisition. I'd expect Bell to clear waivers.
  • Javier Lopez — Heyman also tweets that the 36-year-old Lopez has been placed on waivers by the Giants. Lopez has a masterful 1.99 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a monstrous 64 percent ground-ball rate. He drew significant interest from multiple teams prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. San Francisco GM Brian Sabean reportedly had exorbitant asking price at the time, seeking top prospect Danny Salazar from the Indians in exchange for Lopez. A free agent at season's end, Lopez is owed roughly $813K over the remainder of the year and seems likely to be claimed.

For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primerYou can see who is available to be traded to any team by checking MLBTR's list of players who have cleared waivers.  Zach Links contributed to this post.


Heath Bell Changes Agents

Reliever Heath Bell has switched agents, moving from ACES to Dan Lozano's MVP Sports Group, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. As Crasnick notes (also on Twitter), Bell's former agency seems to have done well in securing the three-year, $27MM contract that Bell signed with the Marlins before the 2012 season. 

After signing that deal, of course, Bell (along with much of the rest of the Marlins team) fell well short of expectations. Expected to be Miami's closer, Bell only managed to notch 19 saves. Even worse, in the 63 2/3 innings he threw, he posted a 5.09 ERA. Bell's performance lagged in 2012 as his walk rate skyrocketed to a career-worse 4.1 BB/9, to go with just 8.3 K/9. 

Bell's current deal does not expire until after the 2014 season. The Diamondbacks possess an option for the 2015 season, but seem very unlikely to exercise it.


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D’Backs Acquire Heath Bell In Three-Team Deal

The Diamondbacks announced that they have acquired Heath Bell, infielder Cliff Pennington, and cash considerations from the Marlins in a three-team deal with the Athletics.  Miami will receive minor league infielder Yordy Cabrera from the A's and Oakland will get outfielder Chris Young and $500K from Arizona. 

The Marlins will be picking up $8MM of the remaining $21MM owed to Bell over the next two years, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel (via Twitter).  The veteran was unhappy in Miami as the club was unwilling to restore him as closer and found himself clashing with manager Ozzie Guillen at points during the year. 

The 35-year-old struggled in his first and only year with the Marlins, posting a 5.09 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 73 appearances.  The new-look Marlins signed Bell in December of last year as a part of their spending spree, giving the reliever a three-year, $27MM deal.  The contract includes a vesting option for the 2015 season which will guarantee him $9MM with 55 games finished in 2014 or 100 games finished in 2013-14.

Pennington has been a member of the A's since being tabbed with the 21st overall pick in the 2005 draft.  The 28-year-old was slotted at shortstop until the acquisition of Stephen Drew bumped him over to second base.  For his career, Pennington owns a .249/.313/.356 batting line across parts of five seasons in Oakland.

Young, 29, is set to make $8.5MM in 2013 with an $11MM club option for the 2014 season that comes with a modest $1.5MM buyout.  The centerfielder has been unable to regain his All-Star form of 2010 and posted a .231/.311/.434 slash line with 14 homers last season.  Young played in just 101 games last season, due in large part to a shoulder injury he suffered when he slammed into a wall in early April.  The outfielder now reunited with skipper Bob Melvin, who he developed a bond with during his time in Arizona.

While the Marlins' main reward in the deal is being freed from the bulk of the money owed to Bell over the next two years, they also pick up a former second-round pick in Cabrera.  The 22-year-old, who played high school baseball four hours north of Miami in Lakeland, Florida, made the move to Class-A Advanced in 2012.  Cabrera hit .232/.293/.332 with three homers in 60 games last season.

Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (via Twitter) first reported that Arizona would send $500K to Oakland in the deal.


Olney On Rodriguez, Blue Jays, Ausmus

Everyone’s talking about Alex Rodriguez these days, but some of the chatter out there can be misleading. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney works his way through some popular theories involving the slumping Yankees slugger, separating myth from reality. Here are Olney’s latest notes…

  • The Yankees will probably talk to the Marlins about a deal involving Rodriguez “just to get rid of an outdated superstar,” Olney writes. Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell could end up going from Miami to New York if the sides complete a trade. The Yankees and Marlins have had preliminary talks about a possible deal.
  • Olney suggests it’d be a clear sign that the Blue Jays don’t view John Farrell as their manager of the future if they’re willing to discuss sending him to the Red Sox. If the Blue Jays aren’t convinced Farrell is their man, they should complete a deal without haggling too much, Olney writes. The Red Sox have begun compensation talks with Toronto, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported yesterday.
  • Brad Ausmus, a candidate for the managerial opening in Boston, did well in his interview, Olney reports.

Managerial Notes: Tracy, Astros, Ausmus, Indians

Marlins right-hander Heath Bell told Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin on MLB Network Radio that he made a poor choice of words yesterday when he implied he doesn't respect Miami manager Ozzie Guillen. Bell said he does respect Guillen, but repeated that he doesn't like hearing things through the media. Here are some more notes on managers and managerial openings from around MLB…

  • The Rockies and Jim Tracy could agree to a role change for Tracy within the organization, leaving the team free to hire a new manager, opines Troy Renck of the Denver Post.  Tracy's "handshake deal" with Colorado only guarantees him the manager's job through 2013, Renck notes.
  • The White Sox and Cardinals' decisions to hire inexperienced managers Mike Matheny and Robin Ventura has thus far paid off for both teams, writes Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • Astros owner Jim Crane says his team has narrowed its search for a manager down to three or four candidates and they hope to have their new field boss in place within a week, reports MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.  An announcement could come later than that if the new manager is currently working for a team going to the playoffs.  Tony DeFrancesco, Tim Bogar, Dave Martinez and Bo Porter appear to be the final field of candidates.
  • While Brad Ausmus is open to interviewing for managerial positions this offseason, he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Astros’ position, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Ausmus, now a special assistant with the Padres, had interviewed for Houston’s managerial opening.
  • Nothing has been decided regarding the future of Indians manager Manny Acta because the organization must first decide on the future of general manager Chris Antonetti, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. CEO Paul Dolan and President Mark Shapiro are expected to decide on the future of Antonetti, Hoynes writes.

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post


NL East Notes: Johnson, Bell, Guillen, Phillies

The Braves' magic number for clinching a playoff spot is one, so they can punch their postseason ticket with either a win tonight over the Marlins, or if the Dodgers and Brewers both lose their respective games this evening.  Atlanta sits five games behind Washington for first place in the NL East, so barring a major collapse from the Nationals, the Braves will have to settle for a wild card, though they're on pace to earn homefield advantage in the wild card game. 

Here's the latest from around the division…

  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo wants Davey Johnson to return as the club's manager next season and said the two sides have had "initial discussions" about the subject, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson.  "We both feel comfortable where we are at in that process," Rizzo said. "I said it before, Davey is part of the furniture as long as Mike Rizzo is general manager of the team. I definitely want him back for '13."  Johnson is under contract only as a team consultant for 2013 and the veteran skipper recently said that he was satisfied with current talks and would address his position after the season.
  • Marlins reliever Heath Bell spoke to reporters (including Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post) about his recent comments about manager Ozzie Guillen, saying his remarks were "totally taken out of context."  Bell said he had to "earn the respect back of my teammates [and] my coaching staff" and that he wanted to keep pitching in Miami.
  • Guillen, meanwhile, told reporters (as per Capozzi's Twitter account) that several Marlins players called and texted their support for him in the aftermath of Bell's comments.
  • Though Domonic Brown and John Mayberry have played well for the Phillies down the stretch, there's no guarantee either will have a starting role in 2013, Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News.

NL East Notes: Bell, Guillen, Phillies

The Marlins spent approximately $95MM to field this year’s team, but they’re expected to lower payroll and spend $70-80MM next year. Here's the latest from their division, starting with one of the team's prominent free agent acquisitions…

  • Marlins right-hander Heath Bell criticized manager Ozzie Guillen in an interview on 560 WQAM in Miami this afternoon. Bell said on the Dan Sileo Show that "it's hard to respect a guy that doesn't tell you the truth or doesn't tell you face to face" (audio heretranscript via ESPN.com). Bell lost the closer's job earlier in the year and Steve Cishek is now closing for the Marlins. For all the latest closer-related fantasy updates, follow @closernews on Twitter.
  • The Phillies will be looking for help in the outfield and one or more veteran relievers this offseason, but there’s also a chance they’ll look to add a starting pitcher, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The Phillies’ interest in adding starting pitching will presumably depend on a variety of factors, such as their trust in Kyle Kendrick.