Texas Rangers: Heath Bell
Bell, 33, has a 2.40 ERA in 41 1/3 innings pitched and has 29 saves in 31 opportunities with 31 strikeouts and 16 walks.
A few things to know about Bell:
1. He said at the All-Star Game that he would be willing to setup for any team that trades for him this season. His contract is up after this season and he wants to return to the closer role then. But he knows Texas is very interested in him and he would provide some critical late-inning help.
2. Like so many players right now, the price for Bell is reportedly high. That's not a surprise. San Diego knows he's a valueable commodity. But with other relievers on the market, the price might drop by this weekend. The Rangers have enough in their system that maybe they could structure a deal that includes some mid-tier prospects and make it more of a package of quantity over the top-echelon piece. We'll see.
3. Bell is likely to be a Type A free agent this offseason, which means that if the Rangers acquire him and he signs elsewhere for 2012, the club would get two compensatory picks in next year's draft. That certainly increases Bell's value.
4. Bell talks about having fun and playing for a winner. That's the Rangers. He seems like someone who would fit in very well in the Rangers' clubhouse. If he enjoys himself and helps the Rangers to another memorable playoff run, maybe that gives the club a better chance at re-signing him. And say what you want about the Cliff Lee offseason, but the fact that he had so much fun with that team helped the Rangers' cause (and their willingness to spend top dollar...of course, he chose Philadelphia in the end).
5. Bell could slide into that primary eighth-inning setup role and be important insurance should something happen to closer Neftali Feliz. And that would allow manager Ron Washington to put Mark Lowe in the seventh inning, helping the overall pen.
On being involved in trade rumors for multiple teams:
"On one hand, it's kind of cool because everybody wants you. Every team out there is good. ... It's kind of really nice to be wanted. On the other hand, it's not so nice because you have to deal with the same exact question: Where do you think you're going to go? Have you heard anything? Blah, blah, blah."
Where does he think he'll wind up:
"If I had to guess, to be honest with you, I couldn't pick one city. I'd probably say it'd be Texas, Philly or St. Louis. Those are the top three that I've heard. ... I'd set up under [Philadelphia closer Ryan] Madson and [closer Neftali] Feliz in Texas, and in St. Louis I'd probably close. I don't know. Just have to wait and see and see what happens."
Which would he rather do? Set-up or be the closer?
"I would like to go to a team that has a chance to win it all. I feel like if they're going to get me, that we're going to win it all. Just with my attitude, my pitching style and what I bring to a team ... I think we'll win it all. [I'm OK with setting up] for this year. Next year, I want to close."
Bell knows trade rumors are swirling about him. He’s 33 years old and will be a free agent at the end of the season. He wants to be a closer in 2012 but indicated Monday during the All-Star Game media availability that he would set up this season if he’s traded to a contender.
“If you’ve got a closer right now and you need me to be the eighth-inning guy, I’ll be the eighth-inning guy,” Bell said. “Secretly, I would probably tell the manager, ‘Look, I’m going to go out there and I’m going to show you I can beat the other guy.’ If the other guy is better than me, then we’ll have one heck of a bullpen.”
Bell said being the eighth-inning setup man doesn’t just mean the eighth inning.
“Sometimes you have to get out of the seventh too and then the eighth,” Bell said. “That’s fine. If I can pitch more, I’d like that.”
Bell said the San Diego bullpen, which includes other trade possibilities in Chad Qualls and Mike Adams, has joked about the trade deadline. Qualls bet Bell dinner that he’d be traded before the All-Star closer. And sometimes they pick a city and talk about living there and what it would all entail.
Bell doesn’t care which league he ends up pitching to finish 2011.
I like the NL because I know everybody,” Bell said. “Then I look at the AL and they don’t really know me. I don’t think in the major leagues you trick anybody or you fool anybody because everybody kind of knows everybody. It’s going to be interesting. If I get traded to the AL, I’ve got a lot of homework to do, but they also have a lot of homework to do.”
Bell did stress that he wants to close in 2012. That could make sense for Texas if they can agree on a new contract for Bell and then possibly slide current closer Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation next season.
As for where he might go this offseason, he said how much his wife enjoys a particular city and how comfortable is family will be is a major consideration. So will the makeup of the team and a club's desire for Bell.
"Do they really want me?," Bell said. "I like where I’m wanted. I’ve always wanted to be somewhere where I can give my heart and soul to and I’m just not another number. I want to give back to the community, give back to the fans, the organization, pitch really well and do the job the best that I can. I want to feel like I’m home."
Bell added that the training staff is San Diego is excellent and that he'd want someting similar in a prospective team (good news for the Rangers, who have a first-rate training staff).
"The coaches too," Bell said. "Every coach in San Diego we can trust. You can say anything and people won’t talk about it. There’s a lot of trust in the coaching staff. That works well for an organization."
Bell also talked about how much team chemistry matters.
"It’s not fun being around teams that have no chemstiry whatsoever but are really good," Bell said. "Yeah, you win, but you’re not having fun while you do it."
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