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Heath Bell would accept arbitration if he doesn’t get a contract extension from the Padres

Aug 1, 2011, 11:06 PM EDT

Heath Bell

Once the dust settled at 4 p.m. ET yesterday, the natural assumption was that the Padres would let Heath Bell walk via free agency and take the two draft picks if they are unable to work out a team-friendly contract extension. Well, it may not work out that way.

Bell told Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier today that he would accept arbitration if he is unable to come to an agreement with the Padres.

“If I don’t have a multi-year deal and they offer me arbitration, I will accept arbitration,” Bell said. “My wife (Nicole) and I talked about all the scenarios last night.

“There is no downside to me accepting arbitration and the family staying in San Diego for at least another year. My kids love it here. My family is happy here. And I’m in a position where I can make some decisions right now.

“The ball is in my court. I want to stay in San Diego. And I want to win here.”

Bell, who turns 34 in September, is making $7.5 million this season and would presumably fetch eight figures through the arbitration process. He told Center that he is looking for a three-year contract in the range of $27 million while the Padres are only willing to offer two years with an option for a third year.

While this sounds like a tricky scenario for a team that likely won’t be on the brink of contention any time soon, Padres owner Jeff Moorad told XX1090 in San Diego (via Dan Hayes of the North County Times) that they actually wouldn’t mind if Bell accepts arbitration.

“In some ways [it’s] even preferable from our point of view … We certainly don’t mind going to year-to-year, though we are willing to guarantee a couple of years with him.”

Bell has a 2.28 ERA, 30 saves in 32 chances and a 33/16 K/BB ratio over 43 1/3 innings this season. He projects to be a Type A free agent this winter.

  1. hansob - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:23 PM

    Any chance this is a negotiating ploy, and he’s trying to lure the Pads into NOT offering so that he can go to free agency without being tagged with a type-A first rounder? Or is his value enough that the Pads could offer, he could accept, then they could just trade him like the Twins did with JJ Hardy?

  2. phillyphever - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    No, I think he really wants to stay. Guess he really likes San Diego.

    • bloodysock - Aug 2, 2011 at 12:11 AM

      Agree. He’s said on multiple occassions his preference is to stay in San Diego and is willing to take a ‘hometown discount’ to remain a Padre. As long as the team offers arbitration, he’ll remain a Padre for at least another year.

  3. randysavage4ever - Aug 2, 2011 at 3:05 AM

    who cares padres suck like the chargers


  4. micker716 - Aug 2, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    I think he’s sincere. For what it’s worth, one of his kids has special needs issues and he’s always been very open about the importance of the stability that his family has in San Diego.

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