Veteran reliever Heath Bell was released by the Nationals on Monday after walking five batters and surrendering five runs — four earned — over 6 1/3 Grapefruit League innings. And the 37-year-old righty is not going to try to latch on with another team.
Bell told MLB.com’s Corey Brock on Tuesday evening that he is officially retiring from baseball: “My kids wanted me home,” said Bell. “What’s more important: my kids or the big leagues? I’ve already accomplished more than I ever dreamed of. Now it’s time to help them accomplish their dreams.”
Bell didn’t finish his 11-year major league career on a high note, but he had a spectacular run with the Padres from 2007-2011, posting a 2.53 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 134 saves in 374 innings.
His career earnings were in the $37 million range.
Washington released veteran reliever Heath Bell, who signed a minor-league deal with the Nationals in December.
Bell showed up to camp in The Best Shape Of His Life and would have earned $1 million for cracking the Opening Day roster, but the 37-year-old former All-Star closer struggled in a handful of appearances.
As recently as 2013 he was a decent middle reliever with a good strikeout rate, so Bell should be able to latch on somewhere else if he wants to keep the comeback attempt going.
Veteran relief pitcher Heath Bell agreed to a minor league contract with the Nationals on December 22 and has spent the final two months of the offseason on a strict diet and workout program, dropping nearly 40 pounds from his typical playing weight of 250.
Bell is now in … The Best Shape Of His Life.
MLB.com’s Jamal Collier has the story …
Bell was one of the early Nationals to arrive Wednesday, a day before the club’s pitchers and catchers were set to report, and he tossed batting practice to two of his sons in the cages. He was noticeably thinner, prompting someone nearby to say, “I honestly had no idea that was Heath Bell.”
Bell’s minor league contract with the Nats will pay him $1 million while he’s in the majors. The 37-year-old right-hander surrendered 16 runs — 14 earned — in 17 1/3 innings of relief last season with the Rays.
The Nationals signed reliever Heath Bell to a minor league deal on Monday. His contract details are now known, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports: Bell will earn a base salary of $1 million and can earn an additional $1 million in incentives.
Bell, 37, has had a miserable three years since leaving the Padres. Over 146 2/3 innings, the right-hander has a 4.91 ERA with a 143/53 K/BB ratio. According to FanGraphs, his average fastball velocity is down to 91.4 MPH compared to 93.2 in 2013.
Heath Bell, who got knocked around for the Rays to begin this year and then spent most of the season at Triple-A for the Yankees’ affiliate, has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Nationals.
Bell was an All-Star closer as recently as 2011 and struck out 72 batters in 66 innings in 2013, but he was a mess for Tampa Bay this year and wasn’t any better in the minors.
At age 37 he looks done, but on a minor-league contract there’s no risk involved for the Nationals and perhaps Bell still has another 50 decent innings in him as a middle reliever.