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Marlins reach three-year, $27M agreement with Heath Bell

Dec 1, 2011, 11:11 PM EDT

heath bell getty Getty Images

The run on high-priced free agent closers rolls on.

According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, the Marlins have reached agreement on a three-year, $27 million contract with veteran righty Heath Bell.

His contract also includes a vesting option for 2015.

Bell has managed a 2.36 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over the past three seasons in San Diego and is likely to do a fine job at the back end of the Miami bullpen over the duration of his new three-year deal, but $9 million annually is a steep price for a team with many other holes that need patching.

Then again, the Marlins probably aren’t done spending.

The deal will be finalized after Bell takes a pre-signing physical Friday in Miami. Juan Carlos Oviedo (er, Leo Nunez) is likely to be non-tendered this winter. He’s still working on re-entering the United States.

UPDATE, 11:59 PM: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says the vesting option for 2015 is worth $9 million.

  1. Old Gator - Dec 1, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    A good peeckup, if pricey. Now the question is what the Feesh will do with Juan Carlos Leo de Burgos Ceviche Nunez Oviedo, or whatever his name is, when he gets his suspended status straightened out. But the Feesh’s beeg probleems were with starting peetching and, most of all, seetuational heeting (a collective .156 RISP or some such theeng).

    Does Bell get his stone crab dinner now – or was that factored into the arrangement already?

    • natstowngreg - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      Through all rumors of big spending, and all the interest expressed in high-priced free agents, I’ve been skeptical. When it came down to it, could Loria actually bring himself to sign contracts involving 8- and 9-digit payouts over several years? This is the first concrete evidence of money being put where mouth is.

  2. paperlions - Dec 1, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    Hmmmm…$9M/year for a 34-36 yr old RP that saw a major drop in velocity and his K rate last year….does he get to bring PetCo with him?

    • Ari Collins - Dec 2, 2011 at 12:00 AM

      Almost exactly my thoughts. In addition to, “Boy am I glad my team hasn’t given a three-year deal to a reliever since 2004, and boy do I hope they don’t break that streak.”

      • Old Gator - Dec 2, 2011 at 7:31 AM

        To be fair, he saw no drop in his velocity last year. His Ks were down, which could be and probably was more a matter of changes in his approach, and he still racked up 40 saves.

      • paperlions - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:21 AM

        My bad, I had read that it was down, but checked and saw that it was not. His K rate was way down and he benefited greatly from a low BABIP and PetCo. The thing is that $9M is a lot for a guy that will face about 250 hitters….and it is more than many teams will spend on their entire bullpen.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:40 AM

        Also in addition, the new Marlins ballpark, well I expect it to be a total pitchers paradise much like Petco. So to answer your question, yes he gets to bring petco with him in a way. This new stadium has places in the OF which make Petco look small actually. Stanton probably won’t be leading in home runs put it that way. Center field reaches as far as 416- 422′, RF 335-392′, LF is 340′-384′. IT IS A HUGE PARK. Plus add the humidity of FLA? Lots of out, put it that way.

      • paperlions - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:51 AM

        …but if it is such a great pitchers park…then ANY pitcher can take advantage of it…further reducing the need to spend a lot of money on a “closer”.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 2, 2011 at 9:03 AM

        Well, that wasn’t your point. You went the wrong way with your usual snark. That was my point. If you think signing Bell wasn’t about getting Marlins fans excited enough to buy tickets then you’re wrong on that point as well. Sure most “closers” would have an easy time there, but they need to get people to buy tickets too. Heath Bell is another guy who’s very fun to watch. You can’t help but like him. I think this is a great team, as well as business oriented move actually. Even if on the first glance it appears to be a little on the irrational side.

      • paperlions - Dec 2, 2011 at 9:05 AM

        Will signing Heath Bell make Marlin’s fans excited?

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 2, 2011 at 9:12 AM

        Watching him close games will get Marlins fans excited. It will help them sell tickets. And he’s going to have great numbers in his his new home.

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:45 AM

      Take a look at the new stadium dimensions PL. Wow.

      • Old Gator - Dec 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM

        Just did. yeah, didn’t realize the field was so big, which threw me because (a) it’s only a 38,000 seater and (b) one of the buzzwords in the Feesh’s advertising for the place has been “intimate.” They’ve been going out of their way to make it sound like a bandbox.

        Then again, credit where it’s due – if by some miracle of mutant demographics this place does fill up, they have some room to move in the walls and add more seats. Muahahahahaha….

  3. JBerardi - Dec 1, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    Man, is Miami-Dade County ever not getting it’s money’s worth.

    • Old Gator - Dec 2, 2011 at 7:29 AM

      No, and it won’t be, until free hands on both sides of the big ditch can press the same button at the same time.

  4. mdpickles - Dec 1, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    When the Feesh are a dozen games behind in July, Bell and Hanley will be on the trade block.

    • paperlions - Dec 2, 2011 at 7:10 AM

      Mayhaps, but the Marlins will have to eat a lot of Bell’s remaining contract if they want to move him before his final year….and if they want anything besides salary relief in return, during the final year as well. Next year Bell will be paid more than many team’s entire bullpen….including some teams that look to have great bullpen depth.

    • Old Gator - Dec 2, 2011 at 7:28 AM

      Hanley would already be on the block if they didn’t have to wait and see about his repaired shoulder.

  5. addictedzone - Dec 1, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    A fine signing. And if it doesn’t work out he can always be a stand in for Billy, as he’s the only Marlin that fills the costume.

    • Old Gator - Dec 2, 2011 at 7:26 AM

      Have you seen what they’ve done to Billy? He didn’t escape Scrooge McLoria’s rainbow revolution, either. He’s got a splash of dayglo color on his bill and his dorsal fin is now tinted like the Feesh logo. Horrible, horrible.

  6. xmatt0926x - Dec 2, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    It’s a risk but the Marlins have to show their current fans and any new fans resulting from the new ballpark that they are going to keep their word and get a compeititive team in there. This is a major make or break time for that franchise. If they don’t end up drawing fans with the new stadium than it’s just hopeless. They have to make major signings and possibly overpay to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling. Forget overpaying a 30-whatever Pujols too. They should go all-in on Fielder and really show that they are for real. I’m not even a fan of the Marlins but am interested in seeing what happens with the fan base with a new stadium and competitive team, if indeed they field a competitive team.

  7. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    Looks good now, but paying him $9 mil when he’s almost 38 probably won’t

  8. uyf1950 - Dec 2, 2011 at 5:05 AM

    Not sure why with so many closers on the market this year why teams are handing out such lucrative deals either in dollars or years w/vesting options. It kind of defies logic.

    • Francisco (FC) - Dec 2, 2011 at 7:43 AM

      Blame RAJ, he set the market. Without the Papelbonian contract I doubt Bell gets $9MM/year.

      • paperlions - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:27 AM

        I don’t blame him….no one made the Marlins pay this much for a RP. Every reliever is a failed starter, the timing of the fail may vary (HS, college, minors, majors)…but they all were starters that couldn’t hack it. Most teams should be able to find a few minor leaguers that are struggling as starters but that have decent control and make them solid to above average relievers….going to the pen usually adds a few MPH to a guys FB (because he doesn’t have to pace himself)….all he needs is one 1/2 way decent secondary pitch. Anyway, most teams should be able to “conjure up” a couple of decent relievers from their system each year, and at some point one of those guys will be good enough for a team to feel comfortable with him closing….there is just no need to throw around this kind of money for a RP if you are on a budget.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 2, 2011 at 10:13 AM

        While true, keep in mind even Mariano Rivera was a “failed starter”. My point is that I believe its unfair to belittle relievers because they couldn’t hack it as starters. Not everyone can be a starter. If you find a role in which you excel the fact that you couldn’t in another should in no way reflect badly on you as a ballplayer.

        Let me put it this way, would you belittle a position player who tried out 3rd base, found out he didn’t have the arm strength to play the position but nevertheless found out he could play an excellent 2nd base?

      • paperlions - Dec 2, 2011 at 10:50 AM

        I am not “belittling” relievers, just pointing out that their production is generally fairly easily replaced and that every single team has a crap load of potentially useful and cheap relief options….and if you are on a budget, relievers are the WORST thing to over-pay for.

      • Old Gator - Dec 2, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        I think they felt that they had to pull a trigger because fans were getting snarky about their big pronouncements and minimal performance on the free agent front. What you’ve been reading here only dimly adumbrates local fan cynicism in Macondo – check out some of the local feeshwrappers or stream some of our godawful sports tawrk raydeeo shows. Bell is a good acquisition in and of himself. But in general terms you’re right.The bullpen was one of the strongest points on an otherwise overall wretched team last season – and they’ve got some kids coming along, like Cishek, who look like they’re going to be good.

        But the Feesh need another middle of the rotation starter badly – Vasquez probably won’t come back – and they desperately need, and I weary of saying it, situational hitters, clutch hitters, contact hitters, whatever you want to call it. They need a third baseman – a real third baseman, most of all, and have needed one since Mike Lowell left. People keep talking about putting Hanley there if they get Reyes and the mind boggles. He is neither a strong nor accurate thrower.

        With Bell on board, they can now afford to ship or package Jose Jesus Juan Julio Nuñez Oviedo da Silva Ortega, or whatever his name is, with Tweeter for a decent third baseman or starter if they can’t overpay for one.

        And why the hell aren’t the Feesh making any Aramis Ramirez noise, come to think of it?

  9. uscfan1988 - Dec 2, 2011 at 6:21 AM

    His strikeout rate declined but his velocity did not his average velocity was 94mph same as always. Also he’s the only close toh hhave 40 saves the last 3 seasons in a row

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 2, 2011 at 7:42 AM

      It would be nice to have an edit function wouldn’t it.

  10. duluthbuttonhut - Dec 2, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    Bob Wickman?

  11. icanspeel - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    Congrats to Heath, he got the 3 year deal he wanted. Padres weren’t really negotiating with him, but it does free up 10 mill for the Padres, I wonder how they will blow it?

  12. mvpolamalu - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    Marlins>heat>eagles

    If its going to work in a sport, it would be baseball

  13. skeleteeth - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    PHEW.

  14. bravojawja - Dec 2, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    “Run” is right. This is starting to look like a bad fantasy baseball auction.

  15. Ben - Dec 2, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    I think this would be a fine move for a contender. Relievers tend to be overpaid for marginal value, but if marginal value pushes you into the playoffs it doesn’t matter. The Marlins aren’t a contender, and the extra 1.5 wins or whatever Bell might provide won’t matter. So in that sense this signing doesn’t make any sense. If it’s to establish credibility, sure, but why not establish it with someone like Jose Reyes?

    • Old Gator - Dec 2, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      It’s buzz. It’s about the new stadium and trying to excite and re-consolidate a fan base they’ve been years and years convincing that they don’t care about and that they’re full of shit. It’s about digging themselves out of the PR hole they’ve screwed themselves into since the end of the 2005 season, using the same idiocy auger that Huizinga and Henry left in the garage for them.

      • natstowngreg - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:15 PM

        It’s also about filling the new baseball palace after the new-park shine has worn off.

        The new Nats Park was pretty full for much of the 2008 season. Then the front-runners noticed that the team sucked. Something similar happened in Pittsburgh.

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