Monday, January 10, 2011

What does Bartlett & Hudson contracts mean for Bell?

Monday January 10, 2011

If the multi-year contracts of Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett are any indication, Jed Hoyer is putting together a Padres team for a 2 year run at the playoffs. That would be a real good sign for Heath Bell signing a multi-year contract too.

Bell is reportedly asking for a 3 year deal in the $20-21 million range. Like the contracts for Hudson and Bartlett that deal would probably be structured as a 2 year deal with a mutual option or vesting option for a 3rd year.

If the Padres can get Bell to agree to a below market 1st year as they did with Bartlett and Hudson, then the Padres would have further payroll flexibility to go out and spend on another starter or left handed bat off the bench or whatever Hoyer feels the team needs.

Even at the $7 million he is expected to receive in arbitration, Bell is a good value.

For the past two seasons Bell has been an elite closer recording the most saves in baseball. His FIP is the lowest in the game amongst relievers with 120+ IP over that period, his xFIP & ERA are 5th in baseball and only Carlos Marmol gave up less HR per 9.

In 2010 Bell gave up just 1 home run in 70+ innings. He had a 2.05 FIP and a 1.93 ERA. In other words his ballpark & defense had little effect on his effectiveness as a pitcher.

Keeping Bell in the fold for 2 years gives the young pitchers on the staff an incredible boost of confidence. They don't HAVE to go 9 perfect innings to win the game. All they have to do is give 6-7 good innings every time out and the bullpen will do the rest.

Bell could probably be signed for a similar amount to the contracts we are seeing handed out for setup men.

Comparatively Bell is a bargain.

Add to that the fact that if the Padres do sign Bell to a team friendly multi-year deal that is being tossed around (3yrs/$20-$21 million) it actually makes him MORE valuable as a trade piece at the deadline if the Padres are not in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Signing Bell, an elite closer, to a multi-year deal is a no lose proposition for the Padres.