San Diego Padres

Heath Bell's Hometown Discount

PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 08:  Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres pitches during a Spring Training game against the Colorado Rockies on March 8, 2010 at Peoria Stadium in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Josh LevittSenior Analyst IMarch 15, 2010

Padres closer Heath Bell will not be a free agent until after the 2011 season, but that doesn't stop folks from questioning Bell's future with the Padres. Will Bell stay in San Diego long term or will his rising salary force the Padres to eventually trade him? Common sense would suggest the latter, but Bell is willing to take less to stay in San Diego:

As for Bell, the Padres encouraged trade offers on him last summer and last offseason. Then they kept him and signed him for $4 million. Bell would have more trade value now if Padres upper-level executives had OK'd the terms that then-GM Kevin Towers and Bell's agent had agreed to in the 2008-09 offseason.

According to Bell, that pact would've guaranteed him $1.2 million in 2009 and $2.1 million this year. "I like the number 21 and wanted those numbers—1.2 and 2.1," said Bell, who wears 21.

When the club deemed the deal too risky, Bell signed for one year and put up enough numbers to raise his salary to $4 million. He said escalators in the scuttled deal would've bumped his 2010 salary to $3 million.

Bell said he'd be agreeable to signing an extension that is budget friendly for the Padres.

This all sounds great on the surface. Bell wants to stay in San Diego and he is willing to take less money to do so. However, given that the Padres have a $40 million payroll and that closers of Bell's quality make around $8 million or so annually (roughly), what are the odds that they are willing to commit somewhere in the $6-$8 million range long term for a closer? Slim to none? None?

Because of their financial limitations, it might be economically impossible for the Padres to keep Bell even if he is willing to take less.

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