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Heath Bell seeking three-year deal from Padres

Oct 14, 2010, 7:05 PM EDT

heath bell happy

Padres closer Heath Bell was awarded MLB’s Delivery Man of the Year Award earlier this week for posting a 1.93 ERA and converting 47 of 50 save opportunities during the regular season.

And now he’s looking to cash in, according to Dan Hayes of the North County Times.

“Three years is perfect,” Bell said Thursday when asked about possible negotiations toward a contract extension. “I don’t expect more because I’m an older guy.”

That last part is nice and all, but a three-year deal might be a reach.  Bell earned $4 million in 2010 via salary arbitration and could be bumped to a salary as high as $7 million for 2011.  Extend that over the next three seasons and Bell is essentially asking for a three-year contract worth more than $20 million.  That’s big-time money to pay a closer and the Padres have a rather small operating budget.

Bell is one of the best ninth-inning men in the game — there’s little doubt about that — but he may have to move elsewhere after 2011 in order to cash in.  Look for his name to come up in trade talks this winter and again next summer.

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