What would an offseason be without the San Diego Padres at least entertaining the thought of trading one of their better players? In an interview with XX1090 Sports Radio, Padres’ GM Jed Hoyer said he would listen to offers for star players Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell. No shock there.

I could certainly see why he would listen to offers for both players. There is very little chance the Padres will lock up Gonzalez long term, so why not get something for him before he walks. With Bell the Padres have two potential closers in Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams, so why pay Bell when they can spend that money elsewhere?


If the Padres are going to listen to offers for someone like Bell, let’s take a gander at his trade market. Here are the pros, cons and potential landing spots for the guy who won’t be sending pitching coach Rick Peterson a Christmas card anytime soon.



There are a lot of good things you can say about Bell, who can stake a claim at being the premier closer in the National League.

Over the last three years, Bell has seen his:

  • ERA decrease each year (3.58 to 2.71 to 1.93).
  • HR/9 decrease each year (0.58 to 0.39 to 0.13).
  • K/9 increase each year (8.2/9 to 10.2/9 to 11/9).
  • WAR increase each year (0.9 to 2.0 to 2.4)

That’s a pretty lethal combination for any pitcher to have. Bell has gotten better by the year, and at the age of 33, doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all.

Now a lot of people will point to pitching at Petco Park as the reason for Bell’s success. While the large dimensions certainly help, Bell’s success is not entirely tied to pitching at Petco.

As a matter of fact, Bell had better numbers on the road in 2010 than he did at home. Bell’s ERA was lower on the road (1.59 to 2.25), his batting average against was lower on the road (.213 to .229) and his OPS against was lower on the road as well (.576 to .594).

Bell is also extremely durable and has never been on the DL in his career. That is a pretty impressive track record for any pitcher.



There aren’t a lot of negative things to say about Bell. If we are going to nitpick, Bell saw his BB/9 rise to 3.6 in 2010, which was the highest of his career.

Bell also has had the luxury of pitching in the offensively challenged NL West for the past four years. Pitching against those lineups is a lot easier than pitching against American League lineups on a consistent basis.

The last con is Bell’s contract. Bell is a third-time arbitration eligible player. He made $4 million in 2010 and figures to make between $7-$8 million in 2011.

While $7-$8 million isn’t an exorbitant amount for a top flight closer considering some of the contracts we have seen recently, that type of contract eliminates a lot of teams as potential trade partners for the Padres.

Now that we have seen the pros and cons of Bell, let’s see who might be interested in the Oceanside, CA native.


Atlanta Braves

Billy Wagner has retired and now the Braves have an opening at the closer position. I personally think Craig Kimbrel is ready for the job, but if the Braves don’t think so, Bell could be a possibility.


Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks desperately need bullpen help and there is a connection there now that former Padres GM Kevin Towers is now in Arizona. However, I am not sure the Padres will trade Bell within the division.


Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays realized the value of having a top flight closer with Rafael Soriano this past season. Soriano is a free agent and the Rays could replace him with Bell.


Chicago White Sox

It’s no secret that the White Sox’s patience with Bobby Jenks is thin and there is a possibility that he might not be tendered a contract for 2011. The White Sox do have Matt Thornton waiting in the wings, but Bell could be a possibility if they don’t bring Jenks back.


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Angels sent Brian Fuentes to the Minnesota Twins at the end of the 2010 season and now have Fernando Rodney penciled in to be the closer in 2011. I can’t take a team seriously that has Rodney as their closer. Bell would be a massive upgrade for the Angels.

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