Heath Bell Rumors
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).
Now that they have a new manager, the Red Sox can focus on improving their roster at next week's winter meetings. Here's the latest from Boston...
- Bobby Valentine was introduced as the Red Sox's new manager yesterday, and today he flew down to the Dominican Republic to meet with free agent DH David Ortiz according to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. "I've said 1,000 times that I want to come back to the Red Sox," said Ortiz.
- Valentine's trip to the Dominican Republic will not include any kind of visit with Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes due to a schedule conflict, reports Jim Bowden of MLB Network (on Twitter).
- The Red Sox continue to maintain dialogue with agent Scott Boras about free agent closer Ryan Madson, tweets Bowden. They also had discussions with Heath Bell's agent before he agreed to join the Marlins, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- Boston's priorities (in order) are Ortiz, a closer, a starting pitcher, and a right-handed hitting outfielder tweets Bowden.
- Regardless of who they hired to manage, the Red Sox did not intend to lose hitting coach Dave Magadan according to The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (on Twitter).
12:55pm: The Blue Jays are pursuing Bell, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Marlins and one other club are also involved. One executive of a team interested in Bell told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Blue Jays seem to be the favorites for the closer, whose heart may remain in San Diego (Twitter link).
THURSDAY, 11:00am: The Marlins are making a serious run at Bell, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. They have strong interest in the right-hander, according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (on Twitter). Two other teams are in on Bell, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
WEDNESDAY, 11:55pm: Bell wrote on his personal Twitter account that there's nothing going on: "The most exciting thing that happened today..put up my Christmas lights. No news people."
11:34pm: Bell told MLB.com's Corey Brock that he hasn't heard from his agent about a deal (Twitter link).
11:07pm: Heath Bell is nearing a deal with an unknown team, according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN.com (Twitter link). It will not cost a draft pick to sign Bell, a Type A free agent, even though the Padres offered him arbitration last week. San Diego would obtain two top 2012 draft picks if Bell signs elsewhere.
Bell posted a 2.44 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings this past season. The Angels and Red Sox are interested in the 34-year-old ACES client, who would prefer to remain on the West Coast. The Blue Jays, Mets, Reds and Marlins may also sign closers this offseason. The Padres offered Bell a two-year deal, but don't appear to be optimistic about their chances of retaining him. CloserNews.com has the latest fantasy baseball-related updates on relief pitchers.
Heath Bell isn’t close to signing, despite last night’s rumors, but it’s not for lack of interest. Here’s the latest on Bell and a handful of other free agents, via Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter links):
- The Red Sox are content to wait out the market for closers, since so many of them are available.
- Mark Buehrle is drawing interest from 14 teams, Heyman reports.
- Opposing GMs expect the Cubs to trade Matt Garza.
- The Mets would offer Jose Reyes $80MM for five years, but would not guarantee a six or seven-year contract.
- Jorge Posada inquired with the Mets about a job and heard the team wasn't interested, according to Heyman. However, agent Seth Levinson told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that "there is no truth to that report. None" (Twitter link).
- The Marlins met with Bell and seem very aggressive. “This is no publicity stunt,” Heyman writes.
- Miami was interested in meeting with free agent closer Ryan Madson, but the right-hander declined, since their offer “wasn’t right.”
- The Mets and Orioles are among the teams showing interest in Jason Varitek, Heyman writes. The Orioles are definitely looking for backup catching help, but it appeared earlier in the week that they were uninterested in Varitek. GM Dan Duquette favors players who could catch every day if necessary.
The Angels are one of five or five teams with "serious interest" in free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, agent Paul Kinzer told Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. DiGiovanna notes that earlier this month Angels GM Jerry Dipoto described his interest level in Ramirez as "lower, but I never close the door on anyone."
Ramirez is open to playing on the West Coast, Kinzer told DiGiovanna. With full no-trade rights this summer, Ramirez was not so flexible. DiGiovanna believes Ramirez could make a decision on his new team at next week's Winter Meetings. On November 14th, Kinzer told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports Ramirez seeks a four-year deal or three years with an option.
The Angels are interested in relievers Matt Capps, Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, and Scott Linebrink, adds DiGiovanna. They're also very interested in starter C.J. Wilson, who's touring the country meeting with suitors.
The Padres have Carlos Quentin "on their list of possibilities" for an offseason trade, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. It seems like a good match, given that the White Sox are thought to have Quentin on the market and the Padres are looking for a corner outfielder. Center mentions elsewhere in his chat with readers that given the Padres' difficulty in luring free agent hitters to Petco Park, a trade would be the club's best chance to add that desired corner outfield help.
Quentin has posted a .257/.352/.505 line over the last four seasons in Chicago, though it remains to be seen how his bat and his glove (a career UZR/150 of -9.3, though this metric also shows Quentin was an above-average defensive right fielder in 2011) would play in spacious Petco Park. If Quentin was acquired, he and Cameron Maybin would play every day, with Center including Chris Denorfia, Jesus Guzman, Kyle Blanks, Mark Kotsay and Will Venable all in the mix at the other corner outfield spot.
Some other news about the Friars...
- Also from Center, GM Josh Byrnes is "actively talking trade with a number of clubs." Center lists Maybin, Nick Hundley, Mat Latos and Anthony Rizzo as "the only players who I believe are close to untouchable."
- Former Padres GM Jed Hoyer tells Tom Krasovic of Inside The Padres that the new collective bargaining agreement played a big role in the club's decision to keep Heath Bell at last summer's trade deadline. "We checked with MLB several times to make sure the compensation system wouldn't be eliminated after the 2011 season," Hoyer said. "The value of the picks was the crux of our decision not to trade him in July or August. In our minds (and many people were involved in the decision), we never were offered anything all that close to the value of the draft picks in return." If Bell turns down San Diego's offer of arbitration and signs elsewhere, Bell's modified Type A status means that the Padres would receive a first-round pick in a slot directly ahead of Bell's new team, plus a supplementary round pick.
- Writing for Fangraphs, Mike Axisa thinks the Padres got the better end of the recent John Baker-for-Wade LeBlanc trade.
- The Padres' willingness to spend on their international scouting and development system is paying dividends, writes Dan Hayes of the North County Times.
10 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make today, and we'll update them in this post in advance of the 11pm central time deadline. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.
Updated team decisions:
- The Giants won't offer arbitration to Pat Burrell (B) or Cody Ross (B) according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Carlos Beltran (A) contractually cannot be offered arbitration.
- The Dodgers declined to offer Hiroki Kuroda (B) arbitration, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (on Twitter). Rod Barajas (B) already signed with the Pirates.
- The Pirates offered arbitration to Derrek Lee (B) while declining to offer Ryan Ludwick (B) and Chris Snyder (B) arbitration. Ryan Doumit (B) already signed with the Twins.
- The Phillies did not offer Roy Oswalt (A) or Brad Lidge (B) arbitration, according to the AP (via ESPN). The team announced that it offered arbitration to Raul Ibanez (B), Ryan Madson (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick), and Jimmy Rollins (A), according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com (via Twitter).
- The Cubs offered arbitration to Carlos Pena (B) and Aramis Ramirez (B) but not to Kerry Wood (B), according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Cardinals offered Edwin Jackson (B) and Albert Pujols (A) arbitration, but declined to make offers to Rafael Furcal (B) and Arthur Rhodes (B), according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). That leaves Octavio Dotel (modified B, no arbitration offer necessary).
- The Mets offered Jose Reyes (A) arbitration, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter).
- The Padres will offer arbitration to Heath Bell (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) and Aaron Harang (B), tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com.
- The Brewers offered Prince Fielder (A) and Francisco Rodriguez (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) arbitration. They declined to offer Yuniesky Betancourt (B) arbitration. Takashi Saito (A), contractually cannot be offered arbitration.
- The Braves did not offer arbitration to Alex Gonzalez (B), according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Teams with automatic decisions only:
- Reds: Francisco Cordero (modified B, no arbitration offer necessary), Ramon Hernandez (modified B, no arbitration offer necessary)
- Astros: Clint Barmes (B, already signed with Pirates)
- Rockies: Mark Ellis (B, already signed with Dodgers)
Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, Ramon Hernandez and Darren Oliver were all Type A free agents under the Elias Rankings system, but they will now be treated as Type B free agents, the MLBPA announced. Teams won't have to surrender draft picks to sign them, but the players' former teams obtain a supplementary first round pick whether or not they offer arbitration tomorrow.
Meanwhile, clubs won't have to surrender a draft pick to sign one of the following six players: Heath Bell, Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madson, Josh Willingham and Francisco Rodriguez. Teams that lose these players after offering arbitration will obtain first round picks in the slot before the signing team plus a supplementary draft pick for a total of two selections.
Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Roy Oswalt, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins were also Type A free agents this offseason. They will cost one draft pick to sign. Their teams will obtain two total picks if they decline offers of arbitration to sign elsewhere, as expected. Takashi Saito and Carlos Beltran, two other Type As, cannot be offered arbitration. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the changes.
Let's look at some news from both the AL and NL West....
- The Rangers have scouted 19-year-old Cuban defector Jorge Soler, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Texas is one of a few teams who have interest in Soler, who Sullivan says "might have more offensive upside" than the heavily-scouted Yoenis Cespedes.
- Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Adrian Gonzalez has been lobbying the Red Sox to check in on several Padres, including Heath Bell and strength/conditioning coach Jim Malone. Boston is known to have an interest in Bell as a possible replacement for Jonathan Papelbon in the Red Sox bullpen. Center also discusses San Diego's own closing situation among other topics as part of his weekly online chat with Padres fans.
- Rockies third base prospect Nolan Arenado has hired Scott Boras as his agent, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Arenado was represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council when Colorado picked him in the second round of the 2009 draft. Arenado, 20, has enjoyed a strong start to his pro career, compiling an .829 OPS in his first three seasons ranging from rookie league to high-A ball.
- The Mariners can afford Prince Fielder, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times and "aversion to risk is how mediocre teams stay bad a long, long time." Baker figures that if the Mariners "eat most of the remaining cash on the Chone Figgins contract" and deal Jason Vargas or Brandon League, the club can afford the slugging first baseman. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes picked Seattle as Fielder's landing spot in his top 50 free agent predictions.
Yesterday, we heard that Heath Bell has become less certain about accepting an arbitration offer from the Padres, and that there were a few East Coast teams interested in the right-hander. Dan Hayes of the North County Times brings us a few more updates on the three-time All-Star today....
- Bell's decision on an arbitration offer may come down to the final hour. If he doesn't get a contract offer he prefers before the arbitration deadline, he might accept arb.
- Years are more important to Bell than dollars, and he's hoping to sign a three-year contract.
- Hayes hears from a source that the Padres are unlikely to commit to more than two years for Bell.
- If the Padres are unable to retain Bell, they'll look outside the organization for a ninth-inning replacement, according to GM Josh Byrnes.