Tag: Heath Bell

Yankees Sign Relief Pitcher Heath Bell to Minors Deal

The New York Yankees have come to terms on a minor league deal with former San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

Bell will report to the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. According to the LoHud Yankees Twitter account, the move resulted in a demotion for minor league reliever Mark Montgomery.

The Yankees are now Bell’s third American League East team this season. Following a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bell was released by the Tampa Bay Rays after he allowed 14 earned runs in 17.1 innings, giving him a 7.27 ERA to start the year. From there, Bell signed on with the Baltimore Orioles to a minor league deal but opted out of the contract.

Bell, now 36, was once a dominant reliever for the Padres, serving as the setup man and eventual successor to future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman. In 2007 he put up a 2.02 ERA in 81 appearances. Two years later, he found himself taking over for Hoffman, and the Padres yet again had an elite closer. In his three years of finishing games in San Diego he saved over 40 games each time. In total he finished with 132 saves and a 2.36 ERA over that span. 

Things went downhill for him following his 2011 season. That winter, he signed a three-year, $27 million deal to become the new closer of the upstart Miami Marlins. He has never been the same since.

He failed in Miami, recording just 19 saves while putting up a 5.09 ERA. Then-manager Ozzie Guillen removed Bell as the closer several times, leading the two to have a publicized disagreement during what was an overall disastrous season for the Marlins.

In his three seasons since leaving the Padres, Bell has a 4.94 ERA and just 34 saves. He is certainly far removed from the pitcher who won the Delivery Man of the Year award in 2010 and the National League Rolaids Relief Man award in 2009 and 2010.

Still, Bell comes cheap and with little risk. If he puts up good numbers in the minors or a current big league reliever gets hurt, the Yankees will at least have an experienced option out of the pen. If he struggles, they can just let him go.


Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Yankees and Major League Baseball.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on David Price, Jeff Samardzija and More

While there are still a number of MLB free agents available, most of the top options are already off of the market. This has caused teams around the league to look toward trades to improve the roster for next season.

Of course, franchises are smart enough to avoid giving away a player for nothing. This will keep potential deals from moving quickly as the negotiation process continues through the start of the regular season.

These trades will likely take some time to be completed, but the latest buzz seems to indicate that a move will be made before the offseason ends. Here is a look at the latest trade rumblings from around the league. 


Jeff Samardzija, SP, Chicago Cubs

After two full seasons as a starting pitcher, Jeff Samardzija has proven he has the potential to be an above-average major leaguer. However, the Chicago Cubs do not feel he is worth his cost.

Earlier in the offseason, David Kaplan of CSN Chicago quoted a source who said, “I don’t see him throwing another pitch in a Cubs uniform. I think it’s 99 percent that he gets moved. They’re not ready to win and he brings you the young pitching you need for the future.”

Although the mindset has not changed, Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago reports that the team will wait for the timing to be right:

Multiple industry sources have predicted the Cubs will let the free-agent market play out – Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are still on the board – and see what happens with the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes before pulling the trigger on any Samardzija deal.

Still, Samardzija told Mooney that he did not want to go anywhere:

My first preference is to win here and be a success here. I know the upside that comes with surviving through this. Just the personal gratification I would get for battling through these few years and then down the road when we’d be looking back on this – (that’s) what really excites me.

Although the pitcher’s ERA inflated to 4.34 this season to go with an 8-13 record, he finished fourth in the National League with 214 strikeouts and fifth with 213.2 innings pitched.

If the Cubs do not want to see if he turns into a legitimate ace in the future, there will be plenty of other teams willing to take that chance.


David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

For most of the offseason, it was almost common knowledge that the Tampa Bay Rays would continue their tradition of trading players before they reach free agency with David Price. However, they do not feel like they need to rush a deal.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times provided the latest buzz regarding the Rays:

They are willing to listen on Price, who has two seasons until free agency, but it’s going to take a lot — in terms of young talent — to get him. Fair conclusion: They haven’t been made a good-enough offer yet.

In essence, the Rays are waiting to see if someone makes it worth their while to trade Price and take the accompanying step back team-wise.

Topkin also clarified, “There hasn’t been much media chatter about a Price deal, though that may be more a product of the Rays’ intense efforts at secrecy than a lack of actual talks.”

The biggest problem has been the Rays unwillingness to give up on the year by trading away arguably their best player. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports broke down what the club is looking for:

Acquiring “now” players would be the Rays’ preference, enabling them to gain back some of the short-term value they would lose by trading Price. The right fit, though, could prove elusive, considering that Price is even more accomplished than Shields.

The James Shields trade brought Wil Myers, who contributed immediately and was named the 2013 Rookie of the Year. It is hard to find a team willing to part with a player of this ability, but Price might be worth that cost.

Either way, it is important not to give away a perennial Cy Young candidate without getting quality players in return.


Heath Bell, RP, Tampa Bay Rays

Once a dominant closer, Heath Bell has struggled in recent years while bouncing around the league from the Miami Marlins to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is now the property of the Rays, but this might not be the case for too much longer.

While discussing the Baltimore Orioles’ need for a reliever, Roch Kubatko of MASN provided the latest rumors out of Tampa Bay:

Grant Balfour would have made $15 million over two years if the Orioles hadn’t backed away following his physical. Now, he could end up with the Rays, who are shopping Heath Bell, according to multiple industry sources.


The Rays acquired Bell from the Diamondbacks on Dec. 3 in a three-team trade with the Reds. Now they’re gauging the market for him.

It is hard to imagine too many teams running at the chance to bring in a reliever who had 15 blown saves over the past two seasons. However, he showed some signs of life with a 4.11 ERA in 2013. 

Additionally, Bell had 132 saves from 2009-11, and the talent is still there for a bounce-back season. If a team is able to pull him away for a low cost, it might be worth the deal.


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Diamondbacks, Reds and Rays Agree to 3-Team Trade

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays and Cincinnati Reds completed a three-team trade Monday that will send pitching prospects to Cincinnati and Arizona and catcher Ryan Hanigan and reliever Heath Bell to Tampa Bay.

Arizona’s official website confirmed the deal. The Rays will send righty Justin Choate and a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks, while Arizona will send lefty David Holmberg to Cincinnati:

The trade was first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

The two most recognizable names in the deal are Hanigan and Bell, who the Rays hope will return to their past form. Hanigan struggled mightily at the plate last season while playing in a platoon with Devin Mesoraco, hitting a career-low .198/.306/.261 while belting two home runs and 21 RBI.   

While the 33-year-old catcher is mostly known for his defensive acumen, his keen eye at the plate and solid contact metrics had turned him into a solid platoon option over his seven seasons in Cincinnati.

Tampa Bay will now have arguably the best defensive catching platoon in all of baseball. The Rays re-signed 2013 starting catcher Jose Molina earlier this week, and they will now have two catchers who can manage their young staff. Neither Molina, 38, nor Hanigan are everyday catchers at this point, so having both will be a massive boon for Joe Maddon.

Bell, 36, is the latest instance of the Rays attempting to find value in a player a team is desperate to get rid of. Arizona acquired Bell and his hefty salary from the Miami Marlins last winter, but the formerly dominant righty scuffled for the second straight year. He finished with a 4.11 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, blowing nearly half as many saves (seven) as he converted (15).

Bell’s three-year, $27 million deal expires after next season. Bob Nightengale of USA Today that Arizona will have to pay only $500,000 of his $9 million salary, a surprising high-cost move for the usually frugal Rays, offset somewhat by the $4 million still being paid by Miami:

In return, the Diamondbacks will receive Choate, a 22-year-old prospect (he turns 23 on Dec. 31) who spent last season in the Rays organization. Undrafted out of Stephen F. Austin State, he pitched 16 games for the Single-A Hudson Valley Renegades, going 1-3 with a 2.88 ERA and striking out 35 batters over 40.2 innings pitched.

Holmberg, who made a spot start this season for Arizona, was drafted in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox. He was traded to the Diamondbacks as part of the Edwin Jackson deal a year later, and has been working his way through the farm system since.

The 22-year-old lefty went 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP across 26 starts for Double-A Mobile in 2013. 


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Justin Upton Still with Arizona Diamondbacks After Chris Young Trade

Well, we have our first real official trade of the offseason.

The Diamondbacks didn’t waste any time opening up their outfield logjam today, trading Chris Young to the Oakland A’s as part of a three-team trade involving the Miami Marlins, as reported by MLB.com.

This might cut down on the rumors of Justin Upton being traded this offseason, or this might cause the trade fires to burn more brightly.

Many things stand out from this trade.

Looking at it from the Arizona perspective, Justin Upton may not be going anywhere after all.

This trade opens CF for prospect Adam Eaton to take over and bat leadoff. Upton can continue in RF, and the D’Backs are then left to decide whether to go with offense (Jason Kubel) or defense (Gerardo Parra) in left field.  

By trading Young and taking back Heath Bell, the Diamondbacks are saving about $3 million in salary according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, which they can redirect to other areas. The Marlins are paying about $8 million of Bell’s remaining contract, making Bell (at $6.5 million per year) a valuable commodity if he can regain his All-Star form.

Arizona will also receive 28-year-old SS Cliff Pennington from Oakland. Pennington will likely factor into the D’Backs shortstop mix for the 2013 season. Pennington had a poor regular season for Oakland but was excellent during the playoffs this past year.



From the Miami perspective, according to mlbtraderumors, it looks to be a salary dump by the Marlins for a player that was touted last winter as a key piece coming into Miami. Bell had a terrible year in 2012, pitching to a 5.09 ERA, and he had only 19 saves. But in his prior three seasons in San Diego, he recorded over 40 saves each year. With how volatile the reliever and closer market is, he could easily regain his form in 2013 and have real value.

The other aspect from the Marlins side is the indication that Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen may return for the 2013 season. Bell and Guillen clashed last season, and Bell was one of Guillen’s most vocal critics, so by removing Bell it may signal that the Marlins are going to give Guillen one more season to turn things around. Miami did receive a prospect in the deal, but it looks to be mostly clearing salary and cleaning out the clubhouse.

The Oakland A’s side is very interesting. By trading for Chris Young, the A’s will have four quality outfielders under contract for 2013. Arizona only kicked $500K into the deal, meaning that Young will cost Oakland $8 million next season.

Do the A’s sell high on Josh Reddick, who struggled down the stretch in 2012? Does Oakland plan on rotating all of the outfielders through the DH position? Is Coco Crisp trade bait all of a sudden?

A’s manager Bob Melvin used to be Young’s manager in Arizona, during which time Young had two of his best seasons. Maybe Young can be a productive player again for Melvin in Oakland.

The MLB hot stove has started already. Great news for everyone looking ahead to next season.

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Miami Marlins Trade Heath Bell to Arizona Diamondbacks

If Alex Rodriguez is indeed traded to the Miami Marlins, as Keith Olbermann wrote in his blog, then the Yankees will not be getting Heath Bell back to help off set the costs.

The Miami Marlins sent their beleaguered closer and free agent bust Heath Bell to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three way trade that also involved the Oakland Athletics.

According to the Twitter feed of Sun Sentinel reporter Juan C. Rodriguez, the Marlins will pick up the tab of $8 million of his remaining $21 million contract.

Bell was one of the celebrated free agents brought to Miami for what was supposed to be their glorious entry to being a big market club with a high payroll and a brand new stadium. No doubt they had images of Bell leaping in the air as the closer of the World Series.

Instead it was a match made in hell. He clashed frequently with manager Ozzie Guillen. According to ESPN.com, Bell said on 560 AM’s The Dan Sileo Show towards the end of the season that “it is hard to respect a guy that doesn’t tell you the truth or doesn’t tell you face to face.”

That may be true. But Bell could have made Guillen’s job easier if he pitched better. He only saved 19 games while posting a 5.09 ERA in 63 2/3 innings. He was consistently removed from the closer role and turned the ninth inning into a horror show in South Florida.

He had to be dealt. And now he will settle in Arizona and the Marlins will continue to shed high priced players less than a year after becoming a big time player.

In exchange the Marlins will acquire minor league shortstop Yordy Cabrera, who played in the Oakland organization’s California League team in Stockton last season.

According to scoutingbook.com, the 22-year-old Cabrera is a shortstop with potential power who is projected to be a third baseman.

So far his numbers have not shown him being a reliable power source. But right now he is a name for the future. The main part of this deal was not to bring in Cabrera but to rid the Marlins of Bell.

Essentially the Marlins have continued to cut bait from this terribly disappointing season. The Heath Bell nightmare has ended. Who knows what the Yordy Cabrera era will bring.

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Oakland A’s Acquire Arizona OF Chris Young for Cliff Pennington

According to a report from MLBTradeRumors.com and breaking news from AzCentral.com, the Oakland A’s have acquired Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young and cash in a trade that sends Cliff Pennington and disgruntled closer Heath Bell to Arizona by way of the Miami Marlins

Young posted a disappointing slash line of .231/.311/.434 in 101 games in 2012 for Arizona. The 2010 All-Star was slowed by a shoulder injury he sustained slamming into the left field wall at Chase Field. The injury ruined a hot start that saw him hit five home runs and register a 1.397 OPS in the first 11 games. On the year, Young wound up with 14 home runs and 41 RBI.

The trade brings Pennington’s five-year career with Oakland to an end. A career .249 hitter, Pennington struggled for much of 2012, hitting a career-low .215 with six home runs and 28 RBI. His versatility came in handy after Oakland acquired Stephen Drew from Arizona as he moved from shortstop to second base. 

Bell, who grew disenchanted with his role in Miami, likely will get another chance to close in Arizona. The former All-Star struggled in his only year with the Marlins, posting a 5.09 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 73 appearances. In return, the Marlins will receive A’s infield prospect Yordy Cabrera, who was initially dealt to Arizona in the Young trade.

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Miami Marlins Trade Reliever Heath Bell to Arizona Diamondbacks In 3-Team Deal

The Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks are no longer involved in on-field activities, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely dormant.

According to CBS’ Jon Heyman, the teams agreed on a three-way trade on Saturday:


UPDATE: Saturday, October 20 at 7:38 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

Major League Baseball shed light on another name included in this deal:

Pennington hit .215 with six home runs and 28 RBI this season. For a small price, the 28-year-old shortstop is a solid veteran to play in a pinch for Arizona, but could also start next season.


—End of Update—


UPDATE: Saturday, October 20 at 4:55 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

According to MLB.com reporter Joe Frisaro, the Marlins will pick up part of Bell’s contract:


—End of Update—


None of those guys are named Alex Rodriguez, but this is still a notable trade, especially considering the timing of it. With winter meetings still a ways away, transactions are not common this time of year.

Bell only played one season with the Marlins, and it didn’t go well. A 5.09 ERA amounted to 19 saves on the season, despite blowing eight other tries. That’s not what you pay a reliever $7 million to do.

He had been the subject of rumors surrounding Rodriguez lately, but we can put those to bed after his move to Arizona.

Perhaps the biggest name in this move is Chris Young. He hit .231 with 14 home runs and 41 RBI this season. He played in very limited action after getting hurt in early September, but he does have some skill. Always a strikeout possibility, Young has a lot of the skills you look for in an outfielder.

Cabrera is the unknown commodity here. The shortstop prospect played in High-A this season, hitting .232 with three home runs. He’s still young, so his upside could pay dividends for Miami down the line.

Picking up part of Bell’s contract is probably the end of any cash considerations, but we will have to wait and see.

Oakland can be considered the early winner here. Bell could benefit from a change of scenery, and Arizona did need back-end arms, but the 35-year-old reliever is toward the end of his career. He had three straight 40-plus save seasons with San Diego prior to this season, but that was also within the confines of PetCo park.

Young, even for his faults, is still 29 years old. He’s hit 20-plus home runs four times, and he could give Oakland some pop in its lineup. Considering the cost, making the move makes sense for the Athletics.

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Why the Miami Marlins Should Offer Heath Bell for Seattle’s Chone Figgins

The Miami Marlins signed Heath Bell in the offseason as part of their expensive and aggressive push to win in their new stadium for 2012.

If anything has gone over worse than the dancing Marlins statue in center field, it has been Heath Bell’s first year in Florida.

He has fallen in and out of the closer role, seeing his ERA balloon to 5.34 as of this writing. He gives up more than a hit an inning, and his WHIP is an amazing 1.610. He isn’t walking many batters, but that seems to be because he is giving up so many hits.

He has blown seven of his 26 save opportunities and has been the very symbol of this disappointing season in South Florida.

And good news, Marlins fans! He is signed for the next two years.

It would probably be best for Bell to have a change of scenery. But how can the Marlins move him and his $18 million guaranteed?

Obviously, the first call would be to the Dodgers to see if they are willing to take on even more big bucks for rotten contracts.

Failing that, the Marlins need to find a partner who also wants to move a player needing a change.

The Vernon Wells and John Lackeys of the world make too much money. But the Marlins, the team at the furthest point Southeast in the major leagues, should look clear across the country to the Northwest and the Seattle Mariners.

They have Chone Figgins, whose time away from the Angels has also been a disappointment. Virtually all of his stats dropped in 2010, his first year in Seattle.

And that season was by far his best. His average has plummeted to sub .190. He has 22 extra base hits total in the past two seasons combined. And his walk total is falling like a rock as well.

He is owed $17 million over the next two seasons if he gets 600 plate appearances in 2013.

Here is the proposed deal: Have the Mariners pick up the option and send Figgins and $1 million to the Marlins for Heath Bell and a minor leaguer.

The Mariners would get a veteran pitcher entering a pitchers park. Bell would pitch alongside closer Tom Wilhelmsen and young relievers Charlie Furbush and Lucas Luetge, as their bullpen is strong enough to have a veteran in a smaller role.

The Mariners would also get a minor leaguer that would be the equivalent of getting a draft pick for Figgins had they let him go via free agency. Chances are they would never have offered Figgins arbitration, so the farmhand would be an extra bonus.

Meanwhile the Marlins would remove the tension of using Bell and would have the versatile Figgins on their roster.

Cut from the same speedy and hustling cloth as Ozzie Guillen, perhaps Figgins could be a useful tool for a National League team. He can come in as a pinch runner and fill in in the outfield and infield. Plus he would bring a veteran presence to the bench that goes with 35 career playoff games and a World Series title.

The trade may not work. Figgins might be buried on the bench in Miami, and Bell could be shelled in the American League.

But we already know the players are not working where they are currently playing now.

How bad could a change be for them? It’s certainly worth traveling 3,355 miles to find out.

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Heath Bell: Right-Hander Pulled from Miami Marlins Closer Role for ‘a Few Days’

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has decided to pull offseason acquisition Heath Bell from the closer’s role “for a few days,” reports Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.

Bell, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract this offseason with a team option for 2015, has been nothing short of terrible in 2012 upon his arrival from San Diego.

Through 11 appearances, Bell has compiled a gaudy 11.42 ERA and four blown saves in seven chances. His WHIP of 2.885 is not what a team would like to see out of any pitcher, let alone their closer.

Bell was a part of the Marlins’ flurry of acquisitions this winter. Guillen, Bell, Jose Reyes, Carlos Zambrano and Mark Buehrle figured to all be keys in the Marlins reversing their losing ways.

Instead, Bell has been a key contributor to the team’s subpar play and disappointing results (13-14, fourth in NL East).

Technically speaking, Bell hasn’t officially lost the closer’s job.

When you’re making $9 million a season, you have to be terrible for quite an extended period of time to justify being yanked from a prominent role.

Once the 34-year-old Bell regains his old form in a much less important role, he will be given the job back.

It will be a closer-by-committee situation in Miami for the time being, with Steve Cishek, Edward Mujica and Randy Webb getting a majority of the opportunities.

Guillen did mention, however, that if Bell were not ready to regain his role by next week, Cishek would be the team’s primary closer.

It’s a good sign for Bell that Guillen isn’t giving up on him.

“He has been the best closer in the game the last three years, number-wise, and that’s why I think we have a lot of confidence in him,” said the Marlins manager.

With that kind of statement and vote of confidence, there’s a very good chance that we’ll see Bell closing out games for the Marlins in the not-so-distant future.

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MLB Free Agents 2012: Jonathan Papelbon and the Top Closers on the Market

Relief pitchers in general, and closers in particular, have repeatedly proven to be terrible investments in free agency. Nevertheless, every offseason sees millions upon millions of dollars thrown at closers, particularly when they’ve put up stats like the cream of this year’s crop:


Jonathan Papelbon

After saving 30-plus games for six-straight seasons in the pressure cooker that is Boston, Papelbon has certainly proven that he has the mental toughness to handle the closer’s job. He also recovered well from a down year in 2010 to post a dazzling 0.933 WHIP this season (along with cutting his blown saves from eight to three).

Papelbon is only 30, so he should have several good years ahead of him. Boston may opt to shell out for his services, but wherever he lands, he’s in for a big payday.


Heath Bell

Despite rampant speculation to the contrary, San Diego opted to hang on to Bell at the trade deadline. The Padres, one presumes, expect to be able to re-sign their lights-out closer, but they’ll have plenty of competition.


Bell has saved at least 42 games each of the last three seasons, with ERAs no higher than 2.71. The only potential red flag is that his strikeout rate plummeted this season from a career-high 11.1 K’s per nine innings in 2010 to a career-worst 7.3.


Francisco Rodriguez

Milwaukee isn’t likely to offer its current setup man as much money as he can get on the market as a potential closer. K-Rod is now three seasons removed from his dazzling 62-save season as an Angel, but he’s an established commodity out of the bullpen (not to mention a fairly big-name acquisition for some club in free agency).

On the other hand, Rodriguez’s ERA as a Met (where he spent the first half of the season) was a disappointing 3.16. It’s hard to judge whether any team signing him will get that version or the one who went 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA as a Brewer.


Ryan Madson

Perhaps the best bet to be seriously overpaid this offseason is newly-minted Phillies closer Madson. He saved 32 games with a solid 1.154 WHIP, but one season of production in the closer’s role doesn’t necessarily translate to long-term success.

The former starter may yet become a reliable stopper out of the bullpen, but he’s also got a substantial possibility of blowing up entirely after signing a big contract.

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