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Marlins agree with closer Heath Bell to 3-year, $27 million deal according to reports

The Marlins appear to have a new closer.

Heath BellAccording to multiple sources, the Marlins and All-Star Heath Bell agreed on a three-year deal Thursday night estimated at $9 million per, all pending a physical Friday here in South Florida. ESPN first reported the story.

With the future of incumbent closer Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly known as Leo Nunez) up in the air, the Marlins have apparently been working behind the scenes on Bell for awhile.

The 34-year-old right-hander is coming off a 43-save season with the Padres that made him the only closer in baseball who has saved 40-plus games in each of the past three seasons.

Bell was 43 of 48 on save opportunities last season and finished the year with a 2.44 ERA and a WHIP of 1.15.

Assuming he passes the physical, Bell would be the first major free agent the Marlins will have signed since changing their name to the Miami Marlins and moving into the new ballpark.

The Marlins' have wined and dined All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, first baseman Albert Pujols and veteran pitchers Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson this offseason.

While Bell's strikeout rate declined in 2011, from 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 2010 to 7.3 this year, his average fastball velocity (94 mph), WHIP (1.15), ERA (2.44) and opponent average (.223) were all in line with his previous performance.

The Marlins led the National League in blown saves in 2010 with 25 and improved last season to sixth fewest with 19. The Marlins also owned the sixth lowest bullpen ERA in baseball (3.44) despite the fourth most innings worth of work (515 1/3). 

By signing Bell, the Marlins can now keep Edward Mujica, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn in setup and late inning roles. Mujica went 9-6 with a team-leading 17 holds and a 2.96 ERA. Cishek was a pleasant rookie surprise, posting a 2.63 ERA while picking up three saves late in the year. Dunn went 5-6 with a 3.43 ERA.

Oviedo, meanwhile, remains in the Dominican Republic where he continues to sort out immigration issues. It wasn't certain that even if Oviedo were cleared soon the Marlins would have tendered him an offer. He stands to make up to $6 million through salary arbitration. It's likely the Marlins will now part ways.


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GREAT, just the first move, now sign Reyes and Buerhle, trade Hanley and with Heath here, there goes the facial hair policy.


Wow!!! This came out of left field. I've been wandering the net for months and his name didn't come up until today. Now he's signed. I guess he must not like Joe Stonecrabs.

I hope this will entice more players to come on down. Although I'm still not sure that I want Pujols or Reyes on this team. Pujols because I'm not convinced he's 32 and will command too much money. Reyes not because he is injury prone but because the ochocinco of this team will pout and cry.

Personally I'd be more comfortable with them signing Wilson and Buerhle than the other two.

Btw, a lot of you suggest Hanley be traded if they sign Reyes but I saw a couple of stores with racks of new jerseys with #2s last name on it.


Hopefully the first of many for the Fish. It's unfortunate what happened with the closer formerly known as Nunez. If Oviedo had been honest all along, he would have a big pay day right now. Heck, he might even have pitched better without the stress of hiding his identity.

The only thing is, they could've had him before for really cheap! Bell for Maybin and Miller was a steal. They gave Miller chances many times and each time Miller disappointed. Maybin is with the Padres now anyway, but even then a Maybin/Bell trade would've been good for the Fish, with getting rid of Miller being an added bonus.

Oh well, at least we finally have a good closer.


I don't know whether or not to like this deal. Is Bell a bonafide closer, yes. Did the Marlins just tie-up a bundle of cash to a guy who plays only 1/2 of an inning, yes again. It is financially irresponsible to give these types of millions to someone who for the most part does not account for the majority of the game. How does this team justify giving Bell 9 million/yr and letting so many others walk.

If the Marlins who have been very frugal (intelligently so) deem Bell worth this much then I can only imagine what they value a Pujols or Reyes at.


Awright...a White guy

Steve jr.

Who cares how much they gave him..hope they go over 100 million to get real Players


Just busted up laughing with Lugo's "awright... a white guy comment. Classic. Love the signing, its a step in the right direction. Heath Bell may not be as dominant in the strikeout dept. anymore, but he will still close the door and is a great clubhouse guy.


See my full thoughts at miamisportsminute.wordpress.com

That said, great signing- obvious impact on the 9th, and also the rest of free agency


Happy to finally see a deal get done. Hope they're not paying for him by the pound.
Although I'm not enamored of the whole "closer" concept, having a guy you are convinced can shut opponents down in the ninth gives you more options earlier in the game and places more pressure on opponents, so the closer does affect more than the final inning of a game.
Wish Bell were two years younger. Fat guys can go down hill fast once they start to lose it. And speaking of going down hill, looks like our terrifying, heartbreaking Leocoaster days are over.


All of the above are nuts.. Great to have a CLOSER but first you have to get to that position to justify him. We need Pitching and Offense players. JJ hurt, Nolasco and Sanchez are up and down pitchers, Who are the 4th and 5th Pitchers??
Need to "add" Wilson & another inexpensive pitcher. Need a CF, everyone else we have are back ups, Need 3b with power (trade for Arizonas 3b, lots of SO but losts of HR). Great addition but this team needs more than a closer, especially at the price.


Are you saying the Marlins should have passed up a chance to sign a good closer because they don't have all the other pieces in place yet? Now that truly is nuts! You grab 'em when you can get 'em. And though Bell isn't the answer to all our dreams, it's a good place to start and it gives us reason to hope that the FO isn't just blowing smoke.

joe m

great signing by the fish..next up:sign reyes and move the mutt to 3rd, sign lefty FA,either one, trade gaby in pkge for another starter.move crash lomo w/bad knee to 1st.ironic and too bad gaby will be playing at new stadium for visiting team,but that's BB

pumpsie green

once again the local beat writers in the dark..scooped by the big boys again ,especially the yes man at the SS and the shill at mlb.com... is it true that samson gives the locals the "Mushroom Treatment"..keep em in the dark and feed them shite..

Stan M

Think of all of the closers still available and is there one who has a better track record for quality performance? In my opinion, if one believes that a closer is a must, then he was by far and away the best one out there. I just looked his stats up and there were some excellent findings. I was worried that his home park made him look better than he really is. Not so at all. Nearly everything in 2011 showed better stats away than at home. Furthermore, his second half stats were an improvement over the first half, although both were just fine. He was sudden death on right handed batters (BA below .175) but lefties hit him fairly well (a little over .280), but then we still have Choate for the really bad guys. He will be paid more per inning pitched than Roy Halliday, and I'm with LB about the overall world of closers. But it's now the accepted trend and we now have one of the best. Just maybe this will have an effect on Vazquez and his intentions. From everything that I read, it really looks as if Reyes and Hanley cannot coextist on the same team. If Reyes is signed and Hanley traded, the money differential isn't that significant. So Reyes, one other quality pitcher, resign Vazquez, trade Hanley and Gabby (Morrison will never be permitted to play in the OF any more with a bad knee) and we're a wild card contender. Lastly, the team needed a significant signing to regain credibility.

Flav C

The more i see it, it looks like Beinfest is trying to do the right thing here (IMO). He is trying to address the areas the Marlins has a need, and not only try to get the big guns. We have a need for a #5 starter, if lefty, even better. He brought in LeBlanc, he is not great but definitely an upgrade over Hand and Lurch. We had a big problem with our closer and he brought a better player to minimize that 9th inning drama. We still have a big hole on 3rd base, OF and at least one good/solid starting pitcher. Bringing either Buherle/Gio (lefty) or Edwin Jackson would lift that rotation big time.

Stan M

Saw your post near top. Wouldn't Reyes look just great with #2 on his back? Nunez(sic) would have received 5-6 million in arbitration, so Bell only increases next years expected payroll be 3-4 millio, and I bet his contract is also backloaded. Do any of you out there agree with me that LoMo will never play in OF next year?


I must say I'm appalled by much of the above commentary still reflecting that this was a negative move. Especially in the case of "rbleigh", who implies that the Marlins frequently tie up a bundle of cash in relievers. This is far and away the most they have ever allocated to this position- Robb Nenn didn't even make this much. Closer was a gaping need, and affords the club the opportunity to adjust their bullpen depth backward accordingly, rather than try to force a closer role on Clay Hensley or Mike Dunn. See miamisportsminute.wordpress.com


Stan M,
I don't disagree with you often, but this time I must. I think unless something unexpected happens with Gaby, LoMo is going to be right back in leftfield next year. It could be a serious mistake and others teams might not put him there after knee surgery, but the Marlins shoved Chris Coghlan out to center after he underwent much more serious knee surgery than what is reportedly planned for Morrison. And we saw how well that worked out, didn't we.

pumpsie green

lomo doesnt "play" the outfield...he tries to "survive" out there

Flav C

Stan, agree 100%. Reyes would give flexibility to assess how HanRam goes during this season and avaluate if they should keep him or not. I'd love to have him playing like he did in '09 but the more i see him, the more i am convinced he is not a good infielder. When i compare him to the good SS in the league (Rollins, Tulo, Hardy, Reyes, etc) it is clear how much heavier and slower he is compared to them. Again, he is a great hitter, but playing in a wrong position, hence a defensive liability. Maybe he would do well as 3B, maybe not, but the Marlins should not put themselves in a position to have him as SS any longer.
And yes, LoMo as an OF means trouble to the Fish and a shorter career as a major leaguer.

Stan M

I simply can't see Hanley not having a snit fit if Reyes makes more money that he. That's the primary reason that I think if Reyes comes, then Hanley goes. Signing Reyes would really be like signing another front line player because that's what Hanley's trade would give us. Think of it this way. Would the Marlins be better off with Hanley and CJ Wilson, or Reyes and a pitcher like that fellow from the A's or another top flight starter that he would bring in a trade.


this is a good first step in the right direction....now get us a couple more in Big D next week....LET'S GO MARLINS!!!!!

J Edgar

Wow!!! Headline in Herald say Feds Looking Into Marlins Stadium Deal...big surprise here...coruption in the Bananna Republic of Miami??? who goes down first,the politicians or Loria & Samson...this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hope the Marlins spend alot of money in the next month on free-agents,while they can.

Bannana Republic Suckers

HaHaHa big deal ..the city and county will get fined big$$$ by the SEC..just add it to the pile, while the deal is done and the marlins laugh at the buffons they duped, all the way to the bank Play Ball !!!


Miami voted worst U.S city for new jobs by Forbes...what a 3rd world shithole


Can the Marlins agree to a less gay logo? Seriously, is this for real? I thought we were through fidgeting with our logo/brand.
I will not be buying any new gear. That is fo sho. I'm not even sure if I still have a team that represents where I live.

Samson's a Prison Beatch

Cant wait until the SEC turns over their investigation to the DOJ and the FBI

Karma  Chameleon

By the times the Feds get done with the Marlins, they'll have the nicest stadium of any AAA team in the country.


Our bikes were: Orbit Romany with various iaidficmtion (Orbit is a framemaker based in Sheffield, UK) and a Surly Long Haul Trucker. It took about 6 months.


SUPER AWESOME! I'm thinkin of doing south ercmiaa and this makes me want to leave next week. What kind of bikes? How long did it take you?

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