A report from ESPN Boston last night indicates the Red Sox are interested in Heath Bell and have made contact with the closer’s agent. This comes of course in the wake of Boston allowing Jonathan Papelbon to walk.
With interest from a team like Boston, Bell’s options, and the Padres options, have increased dramatically. While I’m sure other teams have contacted Bell’s agent, the Red Sox are a perennial contender, they just lost their closer, and they could easily pay Bell what he wants. The Padres have yet to offer Bell arbitration, so there are three options available now. They can not offer arbitration and let Bell walk as a free agent and get no compensation in return (a move that makes no sense to any of the parties involved). They can offer Bell arbitration, Bell can decline and become a free agent, and the Padres would receive two draft picks in return from the team that signs Bell. And finally, the Padres and Bell can agree to arbitration, reach a contract agreement with the Red Sox subtlety in the mix of the negotiations all along, then trade Bell to the Red Sox.
Of course, the above leaves out the fourth and potentially most difficult option for the Padres to face. They could offer arbitration, Bell could accept, and the team could keep him on the roster to play out the contract.
Whatever the case may be, the off-season is about to get a lot more interesting as the deadline to offer arbitration is quickly approaching and the deadline to accept is not long after. As Bell goes, so go the Padres this off-season.