According a major league source, the Red Sox did show interest in closer Heath Bell, engaging in conversations with the reliever's representatives prior to Bell's reported agreement with the Miami Marlins.
The 34-year-old Bell, who is close friends with Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, has agreed to a three-year deal with the Marlins that would be worth $9 million per season with a vesting option for a fourth year. It is being reported that Bell will be in Miami to take his physical Friday.
According to the source, the Red Sox weren't prepared to match Miami's commitment to Bell partly due to concerns over a perceived dip in stuff -- his strikeout rate per nine innings dropped from 11.1 in 2010 to 7.3 in '11 -- and the fact the reliever's success has come while pitching home games in pitching-friendly Petco Park. (It should be noted that, according to Fangraphs.com, despite the drop in strikeout rate Bell's fastball velocity has remained relatively the same over the past four seasons.)
The right-hander finished '11 converting 43 of 48 save opportunities, finishing with a 2.44 ERA. He has saved 42 or more games in each of the past three seasons.
Bell is the third free agent closer to reach a deal this offseason, following Jonathan Papelbon's four-year, $50 million agreement with the Phillies, and the two-year contract for $14 signed by Joe Nathan with Texas.
At the recent general managers meetings, some of Bell's former GM's talked about the value of the reliever:
"He's done it for several years. He has the makeup, embraces the role, has replaced Trevor Hoffman," said San Diego GM Josh Byrnes. "I think in the NL West the lineups may not be as tough as the AL East, but you play a lot of 3-2, 4-3 games and closers become a big part of winning. It takes a physical toll for six months, and he's used to it. Being a closer in the NL West is not like the AL East because you're not facing the lineups, but for sixth months every night is a low-scoring, close game."
"He’s got huge guts. I think that’s the most important thing with a closer," said Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, Bell's GM the last two season in San Diego. "He never shied away. He can pitch four and five days in a row and maintain his velocity. I have no doubt he would transition very well. He never had any problems in interleague. He never had any problems on the road if you look at his home/road splits. That’s not something I worry about."
"To me, it’s really here," said Arizona (and former Padres) GM Kevin Towers, pointing to his to head. "The more I’ve watched great closers, the ones that are tough mentally, want to be out there, you can’t tell, they’re not breathing hard. Hoffman was like [Greg] Maddux as a starter. Or Mo Rivera. You can’t tell if it’s bases loaded, no one out. That’s a gift. That’s an incredible gift.
"Now, he’s been in a couple All-Star games. He pitched in New York for a while. He was young then and probably learned a lot pitching in a big market at a young age. I’m sure he’s comfortable at Petco [Park] and it’s a great park to pitch in, but he’s pitched in a lot of tough ballparks around baseball and been effective. I don’t think he would have any problem pitching with a large market club where there may be added pressure. Who knows? Once you get the big contract, people might react differently. He’s never had the big, big contract, but my sense is that he’d be fine."
For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.
OXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price preview the Week 16 battle between the 11-3 Patriots and 3-11 New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
We get a complete analysis of the Patriots and the NFL with Peter King of SI/MMQB.
We get a complete breakdown of the win from Bill Belichick as the Patriots secure yet another AFC East title. Bill talks about the historical significance, the key moments of the game, and even Tom Brady's nutritional regiment.
How have the Celtics looked after a couple weeks? Could they be a playoff team? These questions and more...
Sam and Ben talk with Greg Dickerson about how fun this year's Celtics team is to watch as well Jeff Green trade ideas.
Kyle Draper joins Danny Picard to talk about the Celtics chances this season in the Eastern Conference, last Wednesday's home opener blowout against the Nets, and Rajon Rondo's future in Boston
Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester. Jon talks about his experiences with free agency, what it would have taken to sign him to the Red Sox last season, and his experiences with fans since signing with the Cubs.
Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with newly signed Red Sox pitcher, Wade Miley. They talk about the story that came out about the D-Backs wanting him to switch to a gluten-free diet, and what he expects coming from the N.L. West to the A.L. East.
The boys are back at it, Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with former Red Sox pitcher and new Chicago Cub Jon Lester, they then talk with new Red Sox pitcher and ongoing consumer of gluten, Wade Miley.
Pierre joins the show to talk about the Bruins-Wild game, Bruins trade rumors, and the rest of the NHL.
Jack Edwards talks with Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton and drops the bomb on us that based on how the standings look now, the Bruins could miss the playoffs this season.
Pierre joins the guys to talk about the Bruins and all things NHL
ESPN's John Buccigross joined the show to discuss how to fix the Bruins.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys discussed the latest with the Sony hackers.
With multiple outlets reporting that the Celtics are in trade talks with the Dallas Mavericks to trade Rondo, the guys react to the possible deal
Dale and Michael are live on the air as the Rondo deal goes down.
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton talk Rex, the Jets, a tough divisional match-up, and what, if any scenario we could see the Patriots losing this one.
We tackle four athletes who left Boston and went on to bigger and better things.
Kay comes into the show to try out for the textress role on the program. We learn about her favorite sports and fondness for Rajon Rondo.
Mikey, Mut, Lenny and Kerry Byrne are taling Patriots-Jets and the potential end of Rex Ryan's coaching career with the team.
Tonight marks 9 straight years of the Planet Mikey Show. We play some sound from the takeover which got Planet Mikey rolling .
What should Danny Ainge do with these Celtics? Is Anthony Davis the second best player in the NBA? Are the Warriors truly contenders?
Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy joins DJ to discuss the "uncoachable(?)" Taylor Hall and revisit the Tyler Seguin trade. Ryan also shares his issues with how the Bruins are run.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk react to today's Tom Brady interview by discussing what they would tell their younger selves. They look closer at Brady's diet and fitness regime and whether they could be as disciplined as the superstar quarterback.
We get a complete analysis of the Patriots and the NFL with Peter King of SI/MMQB.More from this show
As we do every Wednesday, we re-visit some predictions that Chris made in anticipation of last week's game against Miami, and make some new ones about Sunday's match up with the New York Jets.More from this show