Heath Bell's Trade Value
By Ben Nicholson-Smith [March 19 at 4:59pm CST]
4:59pm: Former Padres GM Kevin Towers told Jim Bowden of FOX Sports that he would ask for Aaron Hicks, Ben Revere or Angel Morales from the Twins in return for Bell if he were still running the Padres (Twitter link). Baseball America ranked the three outfielders first, fifth and eighth among Twins prospects heading into the season.
FRIDAY, 1:34pm: Whether it happens now or in July, the Padres are likely to entertain trade offers for their All-Star closer. Heath Bell has value and the Padres don't appear ready to contend for a playoff spot so GM Jed Hoyer will presumably consider trading the right-hander. The Twins are eyeing Bell, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today and more teams will want relievers by late July.
Bell compares favorably to the group of relievers that signed the biggest free agent contracts this offseason. He had a lower walk rate (3.1 BB/9) and more saves (42) than Jose Valverde, Brandon Lyon, Fernando Rodney and Mike Gonzalez and posted a higher strikeout rate than everyone except Gonzalez (Bell: 10.2 K/9, Gonzalez: 10.9 K/9).
Valverde, Lyon, Rodney and Gonzalez all signed multi-year deals worth $11MM or more, but Bell makes just $4MM this year. Next year, he's in line for a raise via arbitration if, as expected, his club tenders him a deal. Bell's ability and salary make him a valuable commodity on the trade market, but it's not clear what that translates into for the Padres.
When the Orioles traded George Sherrill last summer, they were working with a similar player. Sherrill was making less ($2.75MM) and the Dodgers acquired him midseason, but he was nonetheless effective, cheap and controllable through 2011, like Bell is now.
The Orioles acquired Josh Bell - now ranked by Baseball America as the organization's number two prospect - in the Sherrill trade. The third base prospect has "above-average power and a good approach" and projects to be Baltimore's third baseman before long, according to BA. Given their closer's contract status and ability, the Padres have every reason to ask for a top prospect in any trade.