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Heath Bell signs for $7.5 million in final season of arbitration

Jan 18, 2011, 10:16 AM EST

Heath Bell

With one season remaining until he can become a free agent, Heath Bell and the Padres have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $7.5 million contract.

Bell, who made $1.255 million in his first season of arbitration and $4 million last year in his second season of eligibility, has said he’d like to sign a long-term deal with the Padres.

However, with the price tag likely starting around $10 million per season for at least three years the Padres seem more likely to either trade him during the season if they fall out of contention or simply take the pair of draft picks as compensation when he leaves as a free agent.

Bell has been amazing since joining San Diego four seasons ago, throwing 311 innings with a 2.54 ERA and 338 strikeouts while allowing just 236 hits, but he’s also 33 years and based on their recent payrolls the Padres aren’t likely to make a long-term commitment that pays $10 million for 70 innings per season.

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