Heath Bell Rumors

NL East Notes: Phillies, Suzuki, Bell, Bay

The Braves became the latest team to beat the struggling Astros tonight, winning a 4-1 result on the back of 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball from Tim Hudson.  With the Braves' win and the Nationals' split of a double-header with the Marlins today, Washington is only two games up on Atlanta in the NL East.  Here's the latest from around the division…


Rosenthal’s Latest: Bay, Bell, Buck, Lee, O’s, K-Rod

The Mets and Marlins discussed a change-of-scenery trade that would have sent Jason Bay to Miami for Heath Bell and John Buck, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. A deal was never close, though the contracts and the money matched up well. Bell is signed through 2014, Bay and Buck through 2013. Rosenthal notes that all three players are likely to clear waivers this month, so the two sides could revisit the deal. Here are the rest of his rumors…

  • The Astros are paying virtually all of the $9MM left on Carlos Lee's contract, but one club that spoke to the Marlins said Miami wanted as much as $2.5MM in return for the slugger. Talks never progressed.
  • The Orioles spoke to the Mariners about Kevin Millwood, but Seattle wanted a better return than what was offered given the right-hander's bargain $1MM salary.
  • The Orioles also discussed a deal with the Royals that would have sent one of their young arms to Kansas City for Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Broxton. Rosenthal speculates that it may have been Jake Arrieta.
  • The Brewers were close to trading Francisco Rodriguez to the Giants about a week before the deadline, but San Francisco backed off after the right-hander blew two saves and allowed six runs in Philadelphia last week.

Stark On Marlins, Phillies, Dodgers, Garza, Twins

Here's the latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark

  • One official who spoke with the Marlins brass estimates that the odds Josh Johnson remains with Miami are "95 percent." The Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, and Royals have all checked in.
  • Carlos Lee, Ricky Nolasco, Heath Bell, and Gaby Sanchez are all very available. Other than Johnson, Giancarlo Stanton will be the toughest player to pry away from the Fish.
  • The Phillies have talked about trading Cliff Lee following the Cole Hamels extension and they haven't discouraged other teams from inquiring, but their game plan right now is to keep their trio of aces intact.
  • Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton are good bets to be dealt and the Phillies will listen on Hunter Pence. They want multiple young big leaguers to plug holes at third base, in the outfield, and in the bullpen in return.
  • The Dodgers are in on a number of starting pitchers, including Nolasco, Blanton, Kevin Millwood, and Jason Vargas in addition to Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. They've also checked in on outfield and first base help, including Victorino and Justin Morneau.
  • Clubs have not been assured by the Cubs that Garza will make another start before the trade deadline due to his triceps issue. He's more likely to be dealt in the offseason.
  • In the wake of acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, the Pirates are sending signals that they could trade away a starter like Jeff Karstens or Kevin Correia.
  • The Twins' asking prices for Morneau ("pricey"), Denard Span ("more pricey"), and Josh Willingham ("it made me laugh") are high. Minnesota insists they will listen on anyone and Stark says Morneau is the bat they're most likely to move. Francisco Liriano is "nearly 100 percent" likely to be traded.
  • The Orioles continue to look for pitching, someone they consider a number three starter or better. Garza and Vargas have their eye but Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table. They've gotten hits on Jake Arrieta but won't move him unless they get a similar young arm with several years of team control remaining in return.
  • The Brewers will trade Randy Wolf "for nothing if you take the money," according to one official. 
  • The Rays have "got a big market" for Wade Davis


Rosenthal On Marlins, Ichiro, Rangers, Pence

The Marlins aren’t thinking about firing manager Ozzie Guillen, but are expected to continue discussing potential trades in the week leading up to the MLB trade deadline, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The 45-51 Marlins sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit yesterday, signaling that they don’t expect to contend in 2012. Here are more of Rosenthal’s notes…

  • Hanley Ramirez could be the next player traded, Rosenthal reports. The Marlins tried to send the third baseman to Boston last week and they’re still open to moving him.
  • The Marlins figure to shop Heath Bell aggressively, even though he’s just four months into a three-year contract.
  • Teams covet Josh Johnson, who’s under contract for 2013.
  • Ichiro Suzuki is “a lot better than you think” once you take defense and baserunning into consideration, one executive tells Rosenthal. The Yankees acquired the veteran outfielder from Seattle yesterday.
  • The Rangers would love to obtain a top-of-the-rotation starter, but they believe they could address their rotation issues internally if necessary. Cole Hamels will be atop the Rangers’ list of potential targets if the Phillies don’t re-sign him.
  • The Phillies are indicating to other teams that they’re eager to move Hunter Pence. The right fielder will remain under team control through 2013, when he’s expected to obtain a raise and earn $13-14MM.
  • Rosenthal mentioned this yesterday, but it’s worth repeating: the Nationals are among the teams interested in Zack Greinke.

Red Sox, Marlins Discussed Crawford, Hanley, Bell

1:10pm: There's no current discussion involving Crawford, Ramirez and Bell, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). The idea surfaced briefly as a concept and immediately died.

12:57pm: The Red Sox and Marlins are discussing a trade that would send Carl Crawford to Miami for Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. The Marlins approached the Red Sox about the possible blockbuster, Nightengale reports.

The biggest impediment to the deal is the Marlins' indecision about their course for the rest of the 2012 season. Miami VP Dan Jennings is in Boston scouting Crawford, according to Nightengale. The potential trade would be the second-biggest contract swap in history, trailing only the 2004 trade involving Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano, Nightengale writes.

The Marlins are also discussing trades involving Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez, plus a deal that would send Omar Infante back to Detroit, Nightengale reports.

Ken Rosenthal reported earlier today that the Red Sox are determining trade interest in Crawford. However, GM Ben Cherington says there's "nothing going on" with the left fielder, who is in the second year of a seven-year, $142MM contract he signed following the 2010 season.


Marlins Notes: Stanton, Samson, Oviedo

Marlins All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery this morning. Stanton had loose bodies removed from his right knee and is expected to be out four to six weeks. He will miss the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game. As a result, the Marlins will not have a representative in Kansas City for the Midsummer Classic. This was one topic Marlins President David Samson addressed in his meeting with reporters, including Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

  • "I spoke to MLB. I think there were a lot of different ways that Tony [La Russa] and MLB could have gone. I think it’s unfortunate. I think that every team should be represented on the line in an All-Star Game," Samson said. "Obviously MLB or Tony or whoever makes the decision had their own view of it, and it’s certainly disappointing."
  • Samson flashed a sense humor regarding the All-Star snub when asked about Showtime's The Franchise: A Season with the Miami Marlins. "Instead of sending a player to the All-Star Game, I guess we’re going to send the Showtime crew and it’s going be like Where’s Waldo. We’re going to have the Showtime crew just looking for the Marlin."
  • On the loss of Stanton, Samson says "it hurt. He is such an imposing force in the lineup. Carlos Lee was brought in to combine him with Stanton in the lineup. Now it’s sort of back to where you are. But Giancarlo will be back in time to help us. We’re not nearly out of it –- the second wild card or even the division.
  • Samson was asked about the team's inconsistent first half, "I think when you talk about all the excitement going into the season, that’s what leads to this level of disappointment because you don’t expect to be below .500 at the break. But the way things went I think we’re pretty happy to be this close to 500. It could have been a lot worse."
  • Samson again showed his sense of humor when asked about the issues with the turf at the new Marlins Park. "The grass sort of reflects our season. It’s brown right now but getting greener."
  • Manager Ozzie Guillen told reporters, including Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald, that he is looking forward to the return of Juan Carlos Oviedo calling it the "biggest trade of the year." The pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez finishes his eight-week suspension for age and identity fraud on July 22. Upon his return, Guillen says Oviedo and Heath Bell could be sharing closer duties. "We’ll see how Bell’s throwing and we’ll flip-flop each for whatever reason. It’s going to be a big lift."

Padres Notes: Quentin, Maybin, Zumaya, Venable

The Padres have already pulled off two major offseason trades under GM Josh Byrnes, sending Mat Latos to Cincinnati and obtaining Carlos Quentin from the White Sox. “We’re not in total go-for-it mode, but we can make some choices,” Byrnes said, according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Here are details from Center’s recent look ahead to the rest of the San Diego’s offseason: 

  • The Padres acquired Quentin from the White Sox with the notion that they could extend him, Byrnes said. 
  • The Padres have already discussed signing Cameron Maybin to a deal that would buy out one or two of his free agent years, according to Center. We heard late in December that the Padres were set to re-start contract talks with the center fielder, who’s on track to hit free agency after 2015.
  • No payroll model would have allowed the Padres to re-sign Adrian Gonzalez for $20-25MM per season, according to Byrnes. Former Padres GM Jed Hoyer dealt Gonzalez to Boston for prospects Casey Kelly, Reymond Fuentes and Anthony Rizzo last offseason. 
  • The Padres were reluctant to offer Heath Bell a third year this offseason, Center writes.
  • The Padres could sign a pitcher or two before Spring Training and San Diego native Joel Zumaya is high on Byrnes’ wish list, Center notes. 
  • Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner would like to see the Mariners pursue Will Venable, "probably one of the more underrated players in the sport."
  • The Padres figured prominently on Tim Dierkes' list of the offseason's most surprising trades so far.

Quick Hits: Kubel, Chapman, Aoki, Cuddyer

On this day last year, the Padres traded Brandon Gomes, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, and Cole Figueroa to the Rays for Jason Bartlett and a player to be named later (though Tampa would eventually send cash instead). Here's some notes from around the league…

  • The Reds have had conversations with Jason Kubel, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter).  GM Walt Jocketty told Fay (Twitter link) that the club does not have the type of money to sign someone to a Josh Willingham-type deal.
  • Even after trading for Mat Latos, Reds GM Walt Jocketty still plans on using Aroldis Chapman as a starter, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnatti Enquirer.  Jocketty did leave room for a change of heart, however, noting that things could change later on.
  • We should soon find out which team won the bidding for Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
  • ESPN's Keith Law feels that the Rockies overpaid for Michael Cuddyer, who he considers to be a part-time player (ESPN Insider link). In Law's opinion, Colorado is receiving perhaps a one win upgrade over Seth Smith, but paying $7-8MM more than Smith would earn.
  • In that same piece, Law says that he likes the Twins' gamble on Josh Willingham better, but notes that he should be a DH rather than an outfielder and that the contract is still a gamble because Willingham showed signs of decline in 2011.
  • Willingham told MLB.com's Jane Lee that leaving the Athletics wasn't an easy decision, but GM Billy Beane was honest and up front about the fact that he could probably only offer a one-year deal through arbitration.
  • Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel provides some details on the heavily backloaded contracts that Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle received from the Marlins. Bell's vesting option triggers if he finishes 55 games in 2014, or a combined 100 between 2013-14. He and Buehrle both took signing bonuses deferred withiout interest, and all three have contractual obligations to donate to charity each season.
  • Law (via Twitter) prefers Aaron Cunningham to Cory Burns. The Indians acquired Cunningham from the Padres in exchange for Burns yesterday.

NL West Rumors: Ludwick, Gillick, Padres, Rockies

The latest on various NL West clubs…


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).