Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Orioles have signed reliever Heath Bell to a minor league deal, and MASN’s Roch Kubatko confirms the deal. Yesterday, D.J. Short mentioned that the Orioles were one of the four teams expected to land the right-hander.
Bell, 36, was released by the Rays on Sunday, about a week after he had allowed three runs in an inning of work against the Yankees. Bell had struggled for them all season long, however, posting a 7.27 ERA with a 12/8 K/BB ratio in 17 1/3 innings.
The Orioles have had some issues at the back of the bullpen, as closer Tommy Hunter has a 6.60 ERA and three blown saves despite leading the league in converted saves with 11.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.