With one season remaining until he can become a free agent, Heath Bell and the Padres have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $7.5 million contract.
Bell, who made $1.255 million in his first season of arbitration and $4 million last year in his second season of eligibility, has said he’d like to sign a long-term deal with the Padres.
However, with the price tag likely starting around $10 million per season for at least three years the Padres seem more likely to either trade him during the season if they fall out of contention or simply take the pair of draft picks as compensation when he leaves as a free agent.
Bell has been amazing since joining San Diego four seasons ago, throwing 311 innings with a 2.54 ERA and 338 strikeouts while allowing just 236 hits, but he’s also 33 years and based on their recent payrolls the Padres aren’t likely to make a long-term commitment that pays $10 million for 70 innings per season.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.