Heath Bell is eligible for free agency after this season, but the Padres closer said yesterday during a radio interview with MLB Network that he “definitely would take less” to re-sign with San Diego.
Bell, who said this offseason that it “would be my dream” to sign a long-term deal with the Padres, explained that he’s “very open to take a discount, but it has to be knowing that I’ll be able to stay here and not what happened to Jake Peavy.”
Peavy signed a three-year, $52 million extension with the Padres to potentially keep him in San Diego through 2013, but was traded to the White Sox before the new contract had even kicked in.
Bell is making $7.5 million in his third and final season of arbitration eligibility and, hometown discount or not, it’s far from a guarantee that the Padres will want to commit that type of money to a multi-term deal for a closer in his mid-30s. Of course, he’s not just any closer, with a 89 saves and a 2.32 ERA in two seasons since taking over for Trevor Hoffman, and if Bell is willing to take, say, a two-year deal in addition to giving a slight discount then there’s a pretty good chance the Padres would oblige. If they don’t fall out of contention this season and trade him in July, that is.
Last month, free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon told reporters that he’d be open to taking a minor league deal in 2018, but only if he was guaranteed a return to the Mets’ system. The 44-year-old starter is nearing the end of a 20-year career, and it makes sense that he’d want to have one last hurrah in the city where he had some of his most productive years.
Now, Twins starter Ervin Santana tells Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, it looks like the Mets might also be open to a reunion. It’s doubtful that Colon has all that much left in the tank, especially following a combined 7-14 record and 6.48 ERA for the Braves and Twins last year, but he’s not necessarily looking to reproduce the 15+ win, sub-4.00 ERA totals of years past.
Instead, Santana says, Colon is seeking the opportunity to win just six more games. He’ll enter the 2018 season five wins shy of the all-time record for a Latin American-born player, and is hoping to claim that title for himself before he enters retirement in 2019. Former Orioles and Expos hurler Dennis Martinez currently holds the record after clinching his 245th win back in 1998. While it took Colon a full season of starts to come up with even seven wins in 2017, he’s only one year removed from a 15-win campaign in 2016. Provided that the Mets are willing to gamble on him again, the milestone may not be that far out of reach.