Saturday, August 06, 2011

How the Padres Blew Trade of Type A Free Agent Heath Bell

Saturday August 6, 2011

How the Padres Blew Trade of Type A Free Agent Heath Bell

I keep hearing that the reasoning the Padres are giving for not trading Heath Bell is that they felt that they were not being offered two draft picks worth of prospects in return.

In my opinion, the Padres front office outsmarted themselves on not trading Bell for whatever they could get before the July 31st trading deadline.

Three things the Padres brain trust should have kept in mind:
  •  Draft picks in the 1st and the supplemental round cost big money and are far from sure things. Less than 17% make it as regulars in the major leagues.
  • A team has already spent money on the prospects you were asking for in the draft and seen their progression. You would have had to ask for prospects FAR away from being ML ready.
  • Bell would have to refuse to accept arbitration for a place he LOVES to live and play And a place he had repeatedly said for more than a year that he would take a DISCOUNT to continue to play, in order for the Padres to get compensation for him signing elsewhere as a free agent .
What Could Have Been

If the Padres had been better at communicating with their star closer, Heath Bell would have likely returned to the Padres for 2012 as a Free Agent AT A DISCOUNT and, with the Padres holding a top ten place in the 2012 amateur draft, their draft pick in the first round would be protected.  

What I am saying is the Padres could have had their cake and ate it too. Get the prospects for Bell NOW and resign him in 2012 at a discount and only have to give up a 2nd round draft pick.

They were reportedly being offered a package by the Rangers that included the low ceiling, but high probability LHP Robbie Erlin and a lower level prospect at Myrtle Beach, either OF Travis Adair or SS Leury Garcia.

Scouts for the Rangers I spoke with in my travels said in the week prior to the deadline that “Robbie is going” in relation to a potential Bell trade.

What Happened

Instead the Padres got nothing for Bell and subsequent to the deadline saw Bell make a public pronouncement that he WOULD accept arbitration to continue playing in San Diego if the Padres offered, effectively minimizing his value in trade if the Padres attempted to trade him now.

For Bell this actually INCREASED his value in free agency if he chooses to sign elsewhere as:
  1. Other teams know that the Padres would be foolish to offer him arbitration when faced with a probable salary for Bell of  $12-$13 million (of a projected total payroll of $50-$55 million)
  2. Other teams do not have to give up a draft pick to sign Bell if the Padres don’t offer arbitration.
Where this Leaves the Padres

The Padres front office, and Jed Hoyer in particular, have put themselves in a difficult position in regards to Bell when they went into trade season in the drivers seat. 

They will likely have to trade Bell before the end of August basically for whatever they are offered or let him walk after the season with no compensation. They have left themselves in a position where they no leverage.

The Padres would have then set themselves up to get a 2nd package of prospects for Mike Adams.

The Padres front office have completely blown the trade of Heath Bell.