Heath Bell and the Padres are talking contract extension

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Heath Bell has repeatedly made it very clear that he wants to stay in San Diego, saying that signing a long-term deal with the Padres “would be a dream” and then revealing that he’d “definitely take less” to get something done.

Throughout all that the Padres’ interest in actually committing to an expensive closer into his mid-30s was unclear, but now Barry Bloom of MLB.com reports that Bell’s “agents had a productive meeting last week with general manager Jed Hoyer about a contract extension.”

Bell told Bloom that he’s looking for a three-year deal, presumably for no less per season than the $7.5 million he’s earning now. Something in the $25-30 million range should get it done, but if not the Padres may look to trade the impending free agent if they fall out of contention by July 31.

Mariano Rivera is the highest-paid closer at $15 million, and Brad Lidge, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, and Francisco Cordero are all earning more than $10 million this season. Since taking over for Trevor Hoffman two seasons ago Bell leads baseball with 89 saves and ranks seventh among all relievers with a 2.32 ERA, so he certainly deserves to be paid like an elite closer.

Kyle Schwarber has lost 17-20 pounds

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As is offseason tradition, the first of player-shape reports are trickling in. These usually use some variation of the phrase “best shape of [my/his] life.” This one, though, avoids that at least.

According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber has lost 17-20 pounds so far this offseason. Schwarber said that he’s “already big and strong,” so “might as well try to get more explosive, faster.”

Though Schwarber knocked out 30 home runs this past season, his numbers were otherwise pedestrian. He hit .211/.315/.467 with 59 RBI and 67 runs scored in 486 plate appearances.

There has been some speculation that the Cubs will try to trade Schwarber to an American League team where he can be a DH. He’s a subpar defender, so making him a full-time DH makes a lot of sense. So far, though, the only team that has been linked to Schwarber this offseason has been the Red Sox.