UPDATE: Well we said we’d keep you updated and not long after we posted this word came down that the Marlins and Bell have agreed to a three-year, $27 million contract with a vesting option for a fourth year. The deal is done pending a physical.
The Miami Marlins seem to be throwing offers at every big free agent on the market, as they have been openly pursuing Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson. Today news has emerged that they are now after another big name, San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell.
Bell has established himself as one of baseball’s best closers over the past few seasons despite being on a fairly awful Padres team. Bell has saved 40-plus games in each of the past three seasons, and had 43 in 2011.
The Marlins have issues at closer as their incumbent Leo Nunez (now known as Leo Nunez) is currently having some immigration issues related to the fact that he was playing under an assumed name. Thanks to that Miami has reportedly been aggressive in its pursuit of Bell but they’ve been very quiet about it.
Bell is 34 years old and his strikeout rate declined in 2011 from 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 2010 to 7.3 this year. But his average fastball velocity (94 mph), WHIP (1.15), ERA (2.44) and opponent batting average (.223) were all similar to his previous numbers.
The Padres remain interested in re-signing Bell and he has always said his first choice would be to return to San Diego on a multi-year deal. But he made $7.5 million this past season and the Padres may not be able to afford a long-term deal for that kind of scratch thanks to payroll limitations.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels are also in the market for a close and have serious interest in the three-time All-Star.
We’ll keep an eye on this one and update you as it develops.