Yankees Sign Relief Pitcher Heath Bell to Minors Deal

Gary Phillips@@GPhillips2727Contributor IIJune 13, 2014

Miami Marlins' Heath Bell delivers a pitch during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Sunday, July 29, 2012 in Miami. The Marlins won 5-4 in 10 innings. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The New York Yankees have come to terms on a minor league deal with former San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

Bell will report to the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. According to the LoHud Yankees Twitter account, the move resulted in a demotion for minor league reliever Mark Montgomery.

The Yankees are now Bell's third American League East team this season. Following a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bell was released by the Tampa Bay Rays after he allowed 14 earned runs in 17.1 innings, giving him a 7.27 ERA to start the year. From there, Bell signed on with the Baltimore Orioles to a minor league deal but opted out of the contract.

Bell, now 36, was once a dominant reliever for the Padres, serving as the setup man and eventual successor to future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman. In 2007 he put up a 2.02 ERA in 81 appearances. Two years later, he found himself taking over for Hoffman, and the Padres yet again had an elite closer. In his three years of finishing games in San Diego he saved over 40 games each time. In total he finished with 132 saves and a 2.36 ERA over that span. 

Things went downhill for him following his 2011 season. That winter, he signed a three-year, $27 million deal to become the new closer of the upstart Miami Marlins. He has never been the same since.

He failed in Miami, recording just 19 saves while putting up a 5.09 ERA. Then-manager Ozzie Guillen removed Bell as the closer several times, leading the two to have a publicized disagreement during what was an overall disastrous season for the Marlins.

In his three seasons since leaving the Padres, Bell has a 4.94 ERA and just 34 saves. He is certainly far removed from the pitcher who won the Delivery Man of the Year award in 2010 and the National League Rolaids Relief Man award in 2009 and 2010.

Still, Bell comes cheap and with little risk. If he puts up good numbers in the minors or a current big league reliever gets hurt, the Yankees will at least have an experienced option out of the pen. If he struggles, they can just let him go.


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