Heath Bell Trade May Be Death Knell to Alex Rodriguez-Miami Marlins Talks

Phil Watson@FurtherReviewCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2012

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 18:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees walsk off the field back to the dugout after he grounded out in the top of the 9th inning against the Detroit Tigers during game four of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 18, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

And just like that, the Alex Rodriguez-to-Miami talks may be over before they even began.

There had been much speculation over the last 48 hours about the viability of dealing Rodriguez to the Miami Marlins. Most of that speculation involved reliever Heath Bell coming back to the Yankees as part of the trade package. MLB.com columnist Terence Moore discussed the potential deal’s viability on Friday, determining the deal made sense for both teams.

As it turns out, maybe not so much for the Marlins in that scenario.

The Marlins dealt Bell to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday as part of a three-team deal that also included the Oakland Athletics. Arizona got infielder Cliff Pennington and minor league infielder Yordy Cabrera from the Athletics for outfielder Chris Young and cash. The Diamondbacks then flipped Cabrera to the Marlins for Bell.

Bell became expendable after losing the closer’s job in Miami to Steve Cishek. By that time, Bell had blown eight saves in 27 chances and recorded a 5.09 ERA in 73 appearances. The Marlins had signed Bell, a former All-Star with the San Diego Padres, to a three-year, $27 million contract last offseason.

Bell was part of an offseason shopping spree in Miami that included trading for former Chicago Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano. The Marlins also signed free agents Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes and brought in a former World Series winner in manager Ozzie Guillen.

But Miami underachieved badly in 2012, losing 93 games and finishing last in the National League East to open their new ballpark. The Marlins started selling in July. They sent former batting champion and displaced shortstop Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Later, Miami shipped pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers.

There were going to be complications aplenty to a potential Rodriguez trade to begin with.

For starters, Rodriguez has a full no-trade clause in his contract, which means he would have to approve any deal.

Then there’s the matter of that $114 million still owed to Rodriguez over the next five years. Any potential trade was likely going to involve New York eating a significant, if not overwhelming, portion of that remaining payout.

Bell made sense in a deal with the Marlins because of the $18 million he is still owed for 2013 and 2014. The Yankees could have taken back that contract and picked up a big chunk of the remaining tab on Rodriguez in order to send A-Rod back to his hometown of Miami.

But Rodriguez declared after the Yankees were eliminated by the Tigers in the American League Championship Series on Thursday that he wasn’t going anywhere. New York Daily News reported Friday that the 37-year-old Rodriguez had no plans to waive his no-trade clause.

“That’s correct,” Rodriguez said. “I will be back. I have a lot to prove and I will be back, on a mission. I love New York City and I love everything about being a Yankee. The highs are very high, and the lows are extremely low.

“But I’ve never thought about going to another team. My focus is on staying here. Let’s make that very, very clear. No. 2, I don’t expect to be mediocre. I expect to do what I’ve done for a long time.”

The trade rumors began in earnest as Rodriguez struggled through the postseason with a 3-for-25, zero-RBI performance. He was benched for three games, pinch-hit for in two others and was 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitching.