Asked this afternoon if trading Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox meant the Padres would soon be parting with closer Heath Bell too, general manager Jed Hoyer called it “exceptionally likely” that Bell would be San Diego’s closer on Opening Day.
Hoyer added that “this isn’t a firesale” and “Heath is going to be our closer in 2011.”
That doesn’t rule out trading Bell during the season, of course, and there’s been speculation that the Padres may be able to get more for him in July anyway because of how many quality relievers are still available on the free agent market right now.
Bell is arbitration eligible for the third and final time in 2011, after which he’ll be a free agent. He’s due for a significant raise from his $4 million salary this year after saving 47 games with a 1.93 ERA.