The Marlins have agreed to terms with free agent closer Heath Bell, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The deal is worth $27MM over three years and it contains a vesting option for a fourth year. The contract is pending Bell passing a physical, which he will take tomorrow in Florida. Bell is represented by ACES.
Bell, 34, has been one of the top closers in baseball over the last three seasons, taking over from Trevor Hoffman as the Padres’ stopper and recording a 2.36 ERA with 132 saves and 216 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings. Bell did record a career-low 7.3 K/9 last season, however, so this deal (like any multiyear deal to a closer in his 30’s) certainly carries some risk for Miami, especially since we don’t know if their new stadium will be hitter- or pitcher-friendly.
The Padres had an interest in re-signing Bell but only to a two-year contract. Bell was a Type A free agent heading into the offseason, but under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, the Marlins don’t have to give up a draft pick in order to sign the reliever. Instead, San Diego will receive both a compensation round pick and a first-round pick in the slot directly in front of the Marlins’ first-round selection — the Padres now have the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft, with Miami now picking tenth overall.
It was reported yesterday by Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that Bell was close to a deal with an unknown team. The Marlins were known to be Bell’s most ardent suitors with the Blue Jays, Angels and Red Sox also mentioned as possible candidates.