MLB Trade Speculation: 5 Potential Suitors for Padres Closer Heath Bell

Eric CaspersonCorrespondent IIMay 9, 2011

MLB Trade Speculation: 5 Potential Suitors for Padres Closer Heath Bell

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 5:  Closer Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres looks on from the mound in the 9th inning against the San Francisco Giants during their MLB Game at Petco Park on April 5, 2011 in San Diego, California. Bell got the save with the Pa
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Come August, San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell will be a hot topic being discussed among MLB playoff teams.

    Bell, if available, would undoubtedly be the best closer or relief pitcher on the trade market. The Padres would be smart to move him since his trade value will be off the charts. They could get two or three mid- to high-level prospects in return for Bell.

    The Padres closer has emerged as one of the best closers in the game, if not the best, after Trevor Hoffman left San Diego a few years back.

    Bell is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and has saved eight games in nine opportunities.

    There are plenty of teams that should be after Bell, but these stick out as the primary ones. They are also rumored to be interested.

    Note: The inspiration for this article and its rankings comes from this article, entitled "Trade Candidate: Heath Bell." The summaries listed here are entirely original and from the Bleacher Report author's perspective.

5. Cleveland Indians

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 7: Closer Chris Perez #54 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after getting the last out and picking up a save in the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 7, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  The Indians won
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Indians have surprised pretty much the entire baseball world with their 22-11 start.

    A healthy Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore have made this team a real contender. Both are having terrific starts to the 2011 season.

    Cleveland already has one of the best bullpens in the league with a 3.16 ERA. That includes Chad Durbin's 6.75 ERA.

    The Indians have a lot of guys in the back of their pen that are young and inexperienced. Besides Chris Perez, none have had legitimate, late-game experience in September.

    Adding Heath Bell could push Perez to the eighth inning and create a formidable 1-2 punch for the Tribe.

4. Florida Marlins

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - APRIL 26:  Leo Nunez #46 of the Florida Marlins reacts after winning a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Sun Life Stadium on April 26, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Marlins are in almost the same boat as Cleveland is. They have surprised many and have jumped out to an early 20-13 start.

    Florida currently has the second best bullpen in the league with a 2.59 ERA and a BAA near the Mendoza line. The one inconsistent piece of the past couple of years has been Leo Nunez. However, he has been anything but inconsistent so far in 2011. He has a 2.70 ERA and is 11 for 11 in save opportunities.

    The problem lies with the rest of the bullpen. Can you name another guy in the Marlins pen?

    Now I am not knocking the entire bullpen here, but the Marlins would need some experience in the back end of the pen.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

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    CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 22:  Brad Lidge #54 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a photo during Spring Training Media Photo Day at Bright House Networks Field on February 22, 2011 in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Who is the Phillies closer? Take your pick—Brad Lidge? Jose Contreras? Ryan Madson?

    With Lidge always seeming to be hurt nowadays, the Phillies desperately need some stability in the back end of their pen. Right now they are desperate for help and could use a guy like Heath Bell to come in and take some of the pressure off of Madson in the ninth inning.

    The Phillies bullpen has been surprisingly good thus far, but they need a new closer because Brad Lidge is a trip and fall away from ending his career.

2. Texas Rangers

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    ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 07:  Pitcher Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers throws against the New York Yankees at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Rangers pitching has really let them down this season after both the starters and relievers had great 2010 seasons. Losing Cliff Lee does not help, but a 4.48 ERA from the bullpen won't cut it in the AL West.

    The Rangers have to figure out what to do with Neftali Feliz. Should he stay a closer or move into the rotation? A solution—trade for Heath Bell and that makes the decision much easier.

    Feliz is off to another great start this year, but would his stuff be more valuable in the rotation? His DL stint could cause some stir in the Rangers front office as well.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 23: Reliever Ryan Franklin #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on April 23, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    It has been a closer-by-committee beginning for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. After Ryan Franklin came out of nowhere and had four great seasons, it seems that he lost his magic. He is 0-3 with four blown saves and an ERA over eight.

    The Cardinals have gotten saves from five different pitchers thus far. It seems like it is another day, another closer in St. Louis. The Cardinals will be a team that will go hard at Bell if he becomes available at the deadline.