Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams interested in the San Diego Padres’ bullpen fire sale, inquiring specifically on reliever Heath Bell.
The Padres closer is a free agent at the end of the season, but as Rosenthal explains, it wouldn’t merely be a fourth placed team foolishly renting a closer for the final dog days of summer.
The Jays would stand a better chance of signing him if they acquired him now and began the recruiting process while he was part of their club. At worst, they could offer him arbitration and collect two high draft picks if he left as a Type A free agent, helping replace the players they lost in the trade.
Because of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos’ policy of not speaking to the media about potential transactions, Toronto finds itself mentioned in its fair share of trade and free agent rumours. So, obviously, reports of this nature need to be taken with an enormous boulder of salt.
At first thought, the only way that Rosenthal’s suggestion makes any sense whatsoever is if the Blue Jays can land Bell without giving up the equivalent of two compensation picks. But what if the team was assured that they could come to terms with Bell on an extension. If this were the case, then I suppose it makes sense to trade for him now so that they won’t have to give up a first round pick to sign him in the offseason.
All strategizing aside, the real question is why would the Blue Jays want to sign a reliever like Bell to what would almost certainly be a multi-year deal. As Drew Fairservice wrote yesterday, the worries over Toronto’s supposedly troublesome bullpen have been blown way out of proportion. Spending a lot of money on a 33 year old closer with high walk rates who currently has the lowest strikeout rate of his career.
The answer is that they don’t.
With the Cardinals, Reds, Rangers, Yankees and Phillies all rumoured to be interested in Bell, one has to wonder if any Blue Jays involvement in a Heath Bell deal isn’t as a third party, facilitating his move to a contender and improving themselves in the meantime.