MLB Trade Rumors: Is Moving Heath Bell Padres' Only Option During a Rebuild?

M.T. RobinsonCorrespondent IMarch 22, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: Is Moving Heath Bell Padres' Only Option During a Rebuild?

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    Bell leads the Bullpen Of Doom
    Bell leads the Bullpen Of DoomChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Padres All Star closer Heath Bell is the latest Padre to step to the edge of the contract precipice, looking down at the Padres future meager wage offerings and hearing the call of the Yankees or the Red Sox and their monetary sirens song.

    This is what is wrong with the sport and in some waysm all sports in the 21st century. There is no longer any semblance of a level playing field when it comes to the buying and selling of players.

    Your team is either a have or a have not, there is no in between. If in fact a team is lucky enough to develop or sign a player who takes off, reality soon rears its head, in the form of a trade for prospects, or an eventual huge free agent contract from one of the elite money teams. No where is this syndrome more pronounced than in Major League Baseball, where the name of the game is Gawd Bless Cave 23, and to blazes with everybody else....

    The best us Padre fans can hope for is to see a few good prospects in their early years, acquired in a never ending round robin of development and trade, trade and development.

    I am going to look at a few players who the Padres should be interested in dealing Bell for, if in fact they deal him at all. Padre fans are very vocal when it comes to the closer role here in San Diego.

    All Time Saves leader Trevor Hoffman was retained past his prime as a nod to the power of Padre fans wishes. Bell hopefully will be retained,  since Padre fans deserve at least that much.

    As in our power closer, as Padre tradition demands... 

Prospect Number 1: Dustin Ackley–Outfielder/2B-Seattle Mariners

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    Ackley would fit nicely into the Padres infield
    Ackley would fit nicely into the Padres infieldNorm Hall/Getty Images

    Seattle closer David Aardsma came out of no where to post back to back 30+ save seasons for the Mariners during the last 2 years, but he is down after hip surgery in the off season and his return to form can't be counted on.

    That leads me to thinking if the Mariners are in the hunt come trade deadline time, Jed Hoyer could do a lot worse than to try to wrangle this kid in a deal. While not a prospect in the class of Stephen Strasberg, Ackley would immediately become the Padres number one prospect at second, where he has been working this spring.

    Ackley tore up the NCAA with North Carolina for three seasons before being drafted in the first round by the Mariners in 2009  and his list of college accolades boggles the mind. Ackley leaves North Carolina as its all time leading hitter with a .412 average, he also led the Tar Heels in base hits, with 346.

    He's probably not going to be on the table, but if I am Padres GM Jed Hoyer, and Seattle comes looking for Bell, that's the first name I toss in.

Prospect Number 2: Chris Sale–Pitcher-Chicago White Sox

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    Sale could be for sale this summer
    Sale could be for sale this summerHarry How/Getty Images

    Given the history of the recent Peavy trade with the White Sox, I took a look at the prospects lining up on the farm for Chicago, and this guy stood out among the crowd. San Diego has decided that taller is better when it comes to pitchers, and Sale fits right in to that philosophy at 6'5". 

    In a perfect Chicago world this summer, Sale will be the closer, or a member of the rotation should Peavy's shoulder give out again. (which it already has) Tall left handed pitchers are always a commodity and Bell's overall value should at least be able to bring a prospect of this quality in a deal. 

    It's a reach, but If the Sox are in the hunt, they could look to pick up an All-Star closer in place of a rookie one for the stretch. Given the state of the Padres pitching at the moment, Sale would be a good pick up for either role.       

Prospect Number 3: Brett Lawrie–Second Base–Toronto Blue Jays

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    Lawrie is the Blue Jays top infield prospect
    Lawrie is the Blue Jays top infield prospectAl Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Brett Lawrie is exactly the kind of player Hoyer should be looking to add in any deal, a 21-year-old who is between positions, and could be had on the right day.

    Toronto has been known to try to keep up with the Yankees and Red Sox and trading for Heath Bell would give the Blue Jays some airtime on every sports channel in the baseball world.

    Once again, I am looking at the Padres long term prospects at second and Orlando Hudson is a two to three year guy, tops. Lawrie would also be a nice replacement at third for Chase Headley down the road, when Headley becomes due for a major league salary.

    Lawrie is a legitimate hitter with a huge upside and San Diego needs to add a few more actual bats in the middle infield organization-wise. 

Prospect Number 4: Hank Conger–Catcher–Los Angeles Angels

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    Conger for catcher
    Conger for catcherRob Tringali/Getty Images

    Catcher? We don't need no catcher, that's what the backstop is for...

    That is the Padres lifetime philosophy on catchers and I am trying to give Hoyer a broad hint, as in actually trying to deal for a catcher that can contribute to the Padres everyday success before I turn 60 in 13 short years. 

    Conger has all the tools, and the Angels have the pockets to deal for Bell and make it work for a season or two. Sadly, catcher remains thin across the majors and Conger is as good a prospect as there is right now. A natural with the bat, Conger's defense is in development, but once again, he would leap to the front of Padre catching prospects.

    Los Angeles closer Fernando Rodney is five bad outings in a row away from being on the hot seat, so watch him falter and see how quickly the Halos call here to check on Bell's price at that particular moment.  Bell may never be worth more than he will be this season, so don't be surprised if he is dealt to a contender if San Diego is out of it. 

    That's a quick once over of a few of the most attainable guys Padre wise in my opinion. Time will tell what goes down, but rest assured, Bell will be at the forefront of trade conversations all season.