According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Miami Marlins and free agent closer Heath Bell have agreed to terms on a three year contract worth $27 million, pending a physical. The deal also includes a vesting option for a fourth year presumably dependent on games finished.
While the new ballpark in Miami doesn’t have any park factors for us to consider, it’s unlikely to be the pitcher’s paradise the Petco Park in San Diego was. I wrote a story earlier today pointing out that Bell has benefited, perhaps more than any other pitcher from his home park factors.
I linked to a post from Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, who explains why this is vital when considering Heath Bell as a free agent option:
Bell is one of the signature beneficiares of how the park plays. In his career, he’s faced 791 batters in San Diego – 10 of them have managed to hit the ball over the wall, one for every 79.1 batters he faced. Away from the friendly confines, he has faced 1,182 batters and allowed 20 home runs, one for every 59.1 batters that have come up to bat against him. His home run prevention has been 34 percent better in San Diego than in all other ballparks, which of course makes perfect sense, given that he’s a right-handed pitcher and fly balls to right field in Petco have almost no chance of reaching the seats.
The park hasn’t just deflated his home run rate either – his career BABIP in San Diego is just .269, but his combined average against on balls in play in all other parks is .334. His BABIP away from San Diego is likely higher than his true talent level, and I wouldn’t suggest that teams should expect Bell to become eminently hittable upon signing with a new team, but the evidence shows that Bell has never been able to perform well on balls in play in any stadium besides Petco Park. At the minimum, that has to be concerning.
It’s quite simply not a good deal. And not a good investment for a franchise looking to make a fresh start.
The large sigh sound you hear right now isn’t from your creepy neighbour peering through your window, it’s fans of the Toronto Blue Jays who were heavily linked to Bell earlier today. The team’s supporters took to Twitter to introduce the popular local hashtag: #DontSignHeath.