Heath Bell is eligible for free agency after this season, but the Padres closer said yesterday during a radio interview with MLB Network that he “definitely would take less” to re-sign with San Diego.
Bell, who said this offseason that it “would be my dream” to sign a long-term deal with the Padres, explained that he’s “very open to take a discount, but it has to be knowing that I’ll be able to stay here and not what happened to Jake Peavy.”
Peavy signed a three-year, $52 million extension with the Padres to potentially keep him in San Diego through 2013, but was traded to the White Sox before the new contract had even kicked in.
Bell is making $7.5 million in his third and final season of arbitration eligibility and, hometown discount or not, it’s far from a guarantee that the Padres will want to commit that type of money to a multi-term deal for a closer in his mid-30s. Of course, he’s not just any closer, with a 89 saves and a 2.32 ERA in two seasons since taking over for Trevor Hoffman, and if Bell is willing to take, say, a two-year deal in addition to giving a slight discount then there’s a pretty good chance the Padres would oblige. If they don’t fall out of contention this season and trade him in July, that is.