The Twins are scouting Heath Bell

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Heath Bell.jpgJoe Nathan is going to try and throw this weekend and obviously everyone hopes he’ll be OK.  But let’s be honest: not many pitchers can throw with torn torn ligaments in their elbow and the chances of Nathan being the Twins’ closer this year are slim.  Minnesota needs to look at other options. And according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale they’re doing so. Specifically, they’re scouting the Padres’ Heath Bell.

Bell is one of the best closers in the National League — 42 saves; 79Ks in 69 IP, 2.71 ERA in 2009 — and at $4 million this year, something of a bargain for a man of his talents. He also has closer’s facial hair, and that’s just not the kind of thing that can be taught.

Given how much the Twins have done to improve this offseason, the new ballpark and the fact that the AL Central is totally, totally winable, you have to think that they’re not going to want to give the closer’s job to, say, Jon Rauch, if it’s avoidable.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.