In the news conference to announce his signing with the Marlins on Monday, Heath Bell said the Red Sox made him an offer, but that it came up short of the three-year, $27 million pact he got from the Marlins.
“I thought, ‘Red Sox would be cool. I’ve got an inside track. I know [Adrian Gonzalez] real well.’” Bell said. “I know Adrian made a couple phone calls. But for whatever reason, the contract that they offered wasn’t living up to what my guys thought we could get. They said other clubs did offer a little bit more. I thought this was the best fit for me and my family. The National League East is definitely open. The Marlins can definitely win this year.”
After being mentioned in trade rumors so frequently the last year and a half, Bell held out for a three-year deal.
“I really wanted to know that I was going to be someplace for multiple years,” Bell said. “I didn’t want to go someplace for a year or two. I wanted to build something there.”
The Red Sox, meanwhile, remain in the market for a closer. They’ll probably be willing to top their Bell offer in order to get Ryan Madson, but if they can’t get that done, they could give the role to Daniel Bard.
Heath Bell is, as I speak, being introduced as a Miami Marlin. The first question he was asked in the press conference was “why is it a good time to be a Miami Marlin?” His answer:
“New name, new stadium and we’re going to be in the city of Miami … right?”
Yes, Heath. It’s in Miami. Just ask the city officials who get subpoenaed.
It was kind of cute, though. Heath Bell seems like an astonishingly normal dude. He was later asked how he coped with being constantly named in trade rumors over the past year or two and he said “trades are just a bunch of rumors and stuff.”
The run on high-priced free agent closers rolls on.
According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, the Marlins have reached agreement on a three-year, $27 million contract with veteran righty Heath Bell.
His contract also includes a vesting option for 2015.
Bell has managed a 2.36 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over the past three seasons in San Diego and is likely to do a fine job at the back end of the Miami bullpen over the duration of his new three-year deal, but $9 million annually is a steep price for a team with many other holes that need patching.
Then again, the Marlins probably aren’t done spending.
The deal will be finalized after Bell takes a pre-signing physical Friday in Miami. Juan Carlos Oviedo (er, Leo Nunez) is likely to be non-tendered this winter. He’s still working on re-entering the United States.
UPDATE, 11:59 PM: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says the vesting option for 2015 is worth $9 million.
Last night Heath Bell posted on Twitter denying an ESPN.com report that he was close to signing with an undisclosed team, but Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that the free agent closer met with the Marlins and described Miami as “going strong after” him.
Whether that means the ESPN.com report is accurate and the Marlins are that unnamed team is unclear, but Capozzi speculates that Miami could non-tender incumbent closer Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly known as Leo Nunez) “as he works through his immigration status in the Dominican Republic.”
Bell has previously said that he’d like to re-sign with the Padres or at least remain on the West Coast, but it’s possible the Marlins are simply throwing around so much cash that they’ll be tough to turn down.
The story is still developing, but according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the top relievers left on the market will not require draft-pick compensation once the new CBA goes into effect next week.
Ryan Madson, Heath Bell and Francisco Rodriguez are among the relievers to be affected by the change.
Rosenthal says the Phillies will still have to surrender their first-round pick for signing Jonathan Papelbon. Also, top free agents like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins and David Ortiz will continue to cost a first-round pick to sign. However, lesser former Type A free agents will no longer cost a pick. Instead, new draft picks will be created to provide compensation for the teams losing free agents.
This would seem to rate as very good news for the Red Sox, Blue Jays and anyone else who might be looking to pick up a closer. Certainly Madson and Bell are going to be more attractive to Boston and Toronto now that neither will cost a first-round pick.
It’s also good news for those players, as well as fellow Type A free agents Francisco Cordero, Matt Capps and Octavio Dotel. Now, neither Capps nor Dotel was likely to be offered arbitration anyway, so they weren’t really going to cost their signing teams a free agent. But at least this means they have the opportunity to sign with teams now rather than waiting until the arbitration deadline.
According to Rosenthal, this winter’s effort is primarily a stopgap measure. For 2012 and beyond, the Elias Rankings will be abolished and teams will have to make qualifying offers (reportedly north of $12 million per year) in order to receive compensation for free agents who leave.