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.