Heath Bell says signing long-term deal with Padres “would be my dream”

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Once the Padres traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox with one season remaining on his contract the assumption has been that fellow impending free agent Heath Bell isn’t long for San Diego either, but yesterday the closer told Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune that signing a long-term extension “would be my dream.”

Whether or not the Padres have room in their budget for a $10 million-per-season closer or are even interested in making a multi-year commitment to a 33-year-old reliever is unclear, but Bell left no doubt that he wants to remain in San Diego:

This next contract is going to be very important to my family. I’m not 27 or 28 when I become eligible for free agency like Adrian. I have to think about this contract. But I also want to stay in San Diego. My family loves it here. I love it here. I’d love to get something done with the Padres that benefits everyone. Right now, I honestly don’t know what I am asking or what the Padres are offering. I don’t know the numbers, but I know I want to stay with the Padres.

Bell is set to make around $7 million this season via the arbitration process, and Center speculates that an extension “would easily top $20 million” for three years. General manager Jed Hoyer indicated that he’s had some discussions with Bell’s agent, but the talks don’t sound very far along.

Since joining the Padres in 2007 Bell has a 2.54 ERA and 338 strikeouts in 311 innings, including 89 saves in two seasons since replacing Trevor Hoffman as closer. If the Padres fall out of contention, expect Bell to be among the most sought after players at the trading deadline.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).