Arizona Diamondbacks Finally Unload Struggling Reliever Heath Bell

Jonathan CullenSenior Writer IDecember 6, 2013

Bell's stay in Arizona was short and not very sweet.
Bell's stay in Arizona was short and not very sweet.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It was a move that was expected during different points last season, but the Arizona Diamondbacks finally admitted their mistake and traded Heath Bell to the Tampa Bay Rays

The deal for Bell was first reported by the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal was the first to report Ryan Hanigan was traded from the Cincinnati Reds and to the Rays and that a third team might be involved in the deal. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer was the first to report the D'Backs involvement in the trade.

D'Backs general manager Kevin Towers deserves credit for admitting his mistake and cutting his losses here, but at the same time he continues to shorten his leash with the Diamondbacks. Towers is entering the last season of his contract, and Arizona recently made the decision not to pick up Towers' contract option. 

It sends a clear signal that the organization is concerned and wants to see more from Towers before making a longer commitment. 

Trading Bell removes roughly $5.5 million of the $6 million that Arizona was on the hook for in 2014, but the news wasn't all good. The D'Backs had to include talented young minor league lefty David Holmberg to facilitate the deal as mentioned by Piecoro here. Trading Bell and saving the $5.5 million is great, but having to trade a prospect to correct another mistake is tough to swallow for any team. 

Holmberg was ranked by Baseball America as the D'Backs sixth-best prospect entering the 2013 season. He may never develop into a top of the rotation starter, but he could have been a piece that could have been combined with another player to bring back something to make the 2014 squad better. 

Now, fans will have to hope that Towers can re-invest the money into other areas of need for the team. If this deal allows Arizona to acquire a good starting pitcher or a corner outfielder, then this deal will look better in the long run.

Beside salary relief,'s Steve Gilbert reports that Arizona is receiving a minor league pitcher, Justin Choate, and likely a player to be named later or cash. Choate is not really considered to be a prospect at this point. Hopefully, the other player coming in the deal will have more substance.

The 36-year-old Bell seemed to struggle during most of his one-year tenure with the D'Backs, often becoming the whipping boy of the media and fans. Bell was a poster child for Arizona's failed bullpen plan last season and highlighted Towers two-year struggle to judge talent at the major league level.

Bell's main problem with the D'Backs was his inability to keep the ball in the park, giving up a career worst 12 home runs in 65.2 innings. Bell converted only 15 of his 22 chances for saves, putting a lot strain on the entire D'Backs bullpen.

It has been a slow start to the winter for the D'Backs. Hopefully this will get them started on putting 2013 behind them.

Information used from Nick Piecoro/Arizona Republic, Ken Rosenthal/Fox SportsJohn Fay/Cincinnati EnquirerNick Piecoro/Arizona Republic, Baseball America, Baseball Reference, Fangraphs