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.
Scott Sudikoff interviews WNST Baltimore's Luke Jones
We discuss the Patriots blown chance at clinching the division with a loss to the Dolphins with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Hoo-man joins Mut and Merloni from Gillette Stadium after the team’s loss Sunday in Miami. Mut and Lou ask him about his highlight reel touchdown reception and whether he was interfered with as the Patriots attempted to score the game winning touchdown.
Eagle checks in to give Grande and Max a perspective on the Brooklyn Nets after they acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett via trade earlier this summer. He breaks down what he thinks the future holds for the Nets after completing this blockbuster deal.
Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell take some time and look back at the history between the Celtics and the Lakers, specifically the legendary rivalry between Magic and Bird. Legendary broadcaster, Ian Eagle, checks in to give the Brooklyn perspective as KG and Paul Pierce settle into their new home. Sean and Max also reveal the behind the scenes details surrounding Max’s famous “I got the ball” moment.
In the first hour of this edition of the Celtics Summer Cooler, Grande and Max analyze the trade that sent Fab Melo out of Boston. Also in this hour, Max sets the story straight about his history with Larry Bird.
Rob BRadford and Alex Speier talk with john Farrell about the Red Sox offseason so far and about preparing for 2014.
Rob BRadford and Alex Speier are back together on the Hot Stove Show. They talk about the Red Sox and David Ortiz talking contract extension, and speak with Red Sox manager John Farrell about the offseason and preparing for 2014.
For the first time in 2013, WEEI.com's Alex Speier was responsible for compiling Baseball America's list of the Red Sox' top 10 prospects. He discusses his list with the man who'd been in charge of compiling it for most of the prior two decades, Jim Callis of MLB.com. They discuss prospects Xander Bogaerts, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Webster, Garin Cecchini, Mookie Betts, Matt Barnes, Trey Ball, Anthony Ranaudo and others.
Shawn Thornton joined the show and discussed the teams long layoff leading into their game tomorrow night in Montreal. He told the guys that he anticipates fighting being a part of hockey for years to come.
Lucic joins Danny Picard to talk some hockey after the team’s overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Danny asks Lucic about David Krejci’s game winner yesterday and hockey outsiders that are trying to change the game.
Shawn Thornton joined the show fresh off his big night at MSG and talked about his recent goal scoring prowess. Shawn said that no matter who his line mates are he is always going to be a fourth liner.
Stephen A. Smith joined the show and discussed the Celtics trade rumors. He added that as a New Yorker he is jealous of the success of the sports teams in Boston.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. Today the guys discussed a crazy mice fetish.
Kirk and Dino opened the show previewing the Pats and the Ravens. Dino likes the Ravens, Kirk thinks the Pats will play well in Baltimore.
Reiss checks in with Mut and Merloni to breakdown the Patriots injury situation heading into Sunday's action. He updates the status of left tackle Nate Solder and wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins.
King calls in to Mut and Merloni for his weekly chat before the Patriots-Ravens matchup this Sunday. Peter explains what the Patriots should expect heading into Baltimore.
Jackie joins Mut and Merloni to discuss all the trade reports surrounding the Boston Celtics. Jackie looks at the chances that the Celtics move Rajon Rondo and whether they will complete a deal for Rockets’ center Omer Asik.
We talk football with ESPN's Mark Schlereth and get his take on the Patriots, as well the as the rest of the AFC heading into week 16 of the NFL season.
We listen in as Brooks Orpik speaks to the media for the first time since the Shawn Thornton incident over a week ago.
We tackle four topics around the great moments of 2013 in Boston Sports.
Doug joins the show to discuss the upcoming Patriots-Ravens game and offers his insights into the game, and how important healthy players are for this coming Sunday.
Ryder talks with WEEI.com's Chris Price about the Patriots upcoming game with the Cleveland Browns, and Stevan Ridley's status on the team.
Alex joins the show and gives his thoughts on the Jacoby Ellsbury deal, and what prospects the Red Sox have to fill the hole left in the lineup, or trade pieces to get a player who can fill the void.
For the first time in 2013, WEEI.com's Alex Speier was responsible for compiling Baseball America's list of the Red Sox' top 10 prospects. He discusses his list with the man who'd been in charge of compiling it for most of the prior two decades, Jim Callis of MLB.com.More from this show
We break down the Dan Shaughnessy woe is me column in today's Globe (why the front page?) and poke holes in his straw man theories and name calling.More from this show