MLB Trade Speculation: 5 Teams Most Likley to Acquire Heath Bell Before Deadline
The 2011 MLB trade deadline is approaching and, whether or not you like to admit it, many big-name players are in line to make a change in scenery before this season is in the books.
But for one player, Heath Bell, the July 31st deadline may be the most anticipated of any notorious superstar that may trade places.
And as it turns out, some rumors suggest that the San Diego Padres could be willing to trade their luminary closer.
Should those innuendos hold true, here are the five most likely teams that could push to acquire Bell by the trade deadline.
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Chicago White Sox
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The White Sox have written one of the most disappointing storylines of this young 2011 season.
And with the absence of Bobby Jenks from last season, Ozzie Guillen's bullpen production has declined considerably.
Sergio Santos (left) has stepped up and filled the void, to some extent, but the White Sox will need to add some bullpen security if they expect to make a run at the AL Central title.
Joe Nathan held down the closer role at the beginning of the 2011 season but was placed on the 15-day disabled list for what looks to be until the middle of June.
Currently, Matt Capps remains Minnesota's closer, but could the Twins make a run at Bell to shore up their bullpen?
It's unlikely, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility.
Though the Twins have been anything but impressive so far this season, Joe Mauer will be returning from his own injury woes very soon and will reignite baseball in the Twin Cities on offense.
Can Bell do the same for Ron Gardenhire's pitching staff?
Tampa Bay Rays
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Without Rafael Soriano, the Rays are hardly playoff contenders.
Last season, Soriano registered 45 saves with a 1.73 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP.
Who's holding down Joe Maddon's closer role now? Kyle Farnsworth.
You've heard right.
So far in 2011, Farnsworth has registered all nine of Tampa Bay's saves and has an impressive 1.59 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.
Should the Rays' success continue deep into the summer, it will be because they pulled the trigger on Bell in the trade market.
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Drew Storen (left) has been a reliable arm late in games, boasting a 2.03 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP while leading the Nationals in saves (9).
Other than Storen, however, Washington doesn't have many capable relief arms ready to step up.
Moreover, the Nationals have more than enough prospects to deal away in return for Bell, who would almost immediately be ushered in as the everyday closer.
Toronto Blue Jays
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Toronto's bullpen has accumulated just 12 total saves between Jon Rauch (left), Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel—enough to be 10th-worst in the entire majors.
If the Blue Jays plan on contending for the AL East in 2011, they'll have to pursue Bell to shore things up.