MLB Trade Speculation: Heath Bell and Top 10 Relief Pitchers Likely on the Move

Jim MancariCorrespondent IMay 19, 2011

MLB Trade Speculation: Heath Bell and Top 10 Relief Pitchers Likely on the Move

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 31: Reliever Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals on opening day at Busch Stadium on March 31, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    There’s no such thing as too many quality arms in the bullpen.

    Around this year’s trade deadline, several bullpen arms are likely to be on the move to contenders who need relief help for the stretch run.

    Many of these pitchers will be free agents next year and will likely sign elsewhere anyway.

    Here are 10 relievers who could be on the move.

10. Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays

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    FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 22:  Kyle Farnsworth #43 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day on February 22, 2011 at the Charlotte Sports Complex in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Though he’s been a setup man the past few seasons, Kyle Farnsworth was brought in to fill the closer void for the Tampa Bay Rays once 2010 AL saves leader Rafael Soriano signed with the New York Yankees.

    Farnsworth is off to a great start this year as the anchor of Tampa’s bullpen.

    He still throws his fastball in the mid 90s, but it sometimes flattens out. No matter how fast a ball in thrown, major-league hitters can hit a pitch hard if it’s straight.

    If the Rays keep playing like they’re playing, Farnsworth isn’t going anywhere. However, it’s a long season, and if the Rays begin to slip, he’s an ideal trade candidate.

    Farnsworth may be an option for a team looking to shore up its bullpen for a postseason run. He likely would be asked to revert to a setup role if a trade occurred.

9. Aaron Heilman, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 11:  Aaron Heilman #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks in action against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Ever since giving up the go-ahead home run to Yadier Molina in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, Aaron Heilman hasn’t been the same.

    He hasn’t pitched with the confidence he showed during that season, which has negatively affected his performance.

    Heilman has bounced around to a few teams and may be a candidate for one more.

    Though there are better options who’ll be available, Heilman could be the target of a team that doesn’t want to part with high-level prospects.

8. Jon Rauch, Toronto Blue Jays

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    SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 13:  Relief pitcher Jon Rauch #60 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on April 13, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    6’10” right-hander Jon Rauch might be available.

    He signed a one-year deal with an option this past offseason with the Toronto Blue Jays.

    The option is worth $3.75 million, so the likelihood that he’s dealt seems high.

    Rauch has been a journeyman his entire career, and there’s a good chance he’ll add another cap to his extensive collection.

    He’s still an intimidating force on the mound who can provide bullpen depth to a contender.

7. Shawn Camp, Toronto Blue Jays

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    DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Shawn Camp #57 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses during photo day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on February 20, 2011 in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Shawn Camp has been a steady reliever over the past few seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Though he may not be a contending team’s top choice for bullpen help, he’s a solid fallback option, like his teammate Jon Rauch.

    The soon-to-be 36-year-old will likely be a two-month rental player down the stretch.

    Teams can definitely do worse than acquiring Camp.

6. Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 08:  Closing pitcher Joe Nathan #36 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates the win during Opening Day on April 8, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Twins defeated the Oakland Athletics 2-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Ge
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Joe Nathan was once a top closer in the game before injury troubles set in. He missed all of last year after undergoing right elbow surgery, and his return to action has not been so pretty.

    The Minnesota Twins are the worst team in the majors, and the bullpen has been a reason.

    Matt Capps has pitched well after reassuming closing duties.

    Both Capps and Nathan will be free agents after the season. However, the 36-year-old Nathan has a $12.5 million club option on the table. The smarter bet would be to re-sign the 27-year-old Capps.

    Nathan must prove he is at least serviceable out of the bullpen if a team were to acquire him.

5. Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers

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    DETROIT, MI - MAY 14: Jose Valverde #46 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates a 3-0 win over the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park on May 14, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Jose Valverde has a $9 million club option for next season. If a trade were to occur, the team acquiring Valverde would have to work with that option.

    The Detroit Tigers seem to be grooming young lefty Daniel Schlereth to take over the closer’s role at some point.

    Valverde is still an effective closer. He’s had very few blemishes this season.

    A contending team in need of bullpen help may come knocking on the Tigers' door. Detroit would likely be able to land some high-level prospects in exchange for its hard-throwing closer.

    If the team that trades for him could negotiate an extension, it could be a deal worth making.

4. Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets

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    DENVER, CO - MAY 10:  Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets pitches in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on May 10, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Rodriguez earned a save as the Mets defeated the Rockies 4-3.  (Photo by Doug P
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Despite off the field issues and an ugly blown save in his first appearance this year, Francisco Rodriguez has been lights out in the ninth inning for the New York Mets.

    He has converted 13 straight saves, allowing very few baserunners in the process.

    K-Rod has an option that vests if he finishes 55 games. He looks like he’s on pace to do this, so a trade would have to include a team willing to hang on to him for next season.

    Rodriguez seems like a changed man who may help a contender in need of bullpen help.

3. Mike Gonzalez, Baltimore Orioles

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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 10:  Pitcher Mike Gonzalez #51 of the Baltimore Orioles delivers to a Texas Rangers batter at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 10, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Mike Gonzalez is off to a dreadful start this season.

    He’s fresh off taking the loss in the Orioles' 15-inning game with the Yankees. He was also ejected from this game for hitting Chris Dickerson in the head.

    When on, Gonzalez is one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. Though he has been used as a closer, his value is as a lefty specialist.

    Every team needs a lefty in the bullpen to come in and get the opposing team’s top lefty hitter out. While this strategy doesn’t always work, managers like the odds of making this move.

    The Orioles have Kevin Gregg and Koji Uehara as late-inning options.

    Teams may come knocking to bid for the lefty’s services in late July.

2. Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02:  Closer Jonathan Broxton #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs  on May 2, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Broxton picked up the save as the Dodgers won 5-2.
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    With all the financial uncertainty surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers, relieving themselves of some payroll may be a wise decision.

    Jonathan Broxton is set to hit free agency for the first time after this season, and there’s a strong chance he won’t be back in Dodger Blue.

    He’s struggled out of the gate this season, which also may factor in a trade.

    The Dodgers have young prospect Kenley Jansen waiting in the wings as the team’s future closer. Though he hasn’t experienced the success this year like he did last year, Jansen has the stuff to be a closer.

    Broxton would be a hot commodity around the deadline, with many teams vying for his services.

    If the MLB-controlled Dodgers are looking to shed payroll, Broxton may be the first to go.

1. Heath Bell, San Diego Padres

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 15:  Pitcher Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres throws in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 15, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Heath Bell has quietly turned in back-to-back dominant seasons and is poised for a third straight this year.

    Though it’s still early, the San Diego Padres will have an uphill battle trying to compete with the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants for bragging rights in the NL West.

    Bell has been one of the few bright spots in San Diego.

    Like the Tigers with Jose Valverde, the Padres should be able to get some serious value for Bell.

    He also has experience as a setup man and will be a free agent after the season—both of which may factor into a potential trade.