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Heath Bell Signs With Miami Marlins

Heath Bell
Andy Lyons, Getty Images

After sending Jonathan Papelbon packing, the Boston Red Sox were considered among the front-runners in the Heath Bell sweepstakes. But last night, the free-agent closer shocked many baseball pundants with his final decision.

After spending five years with the Padres, the best available closer on the market decided to sign with the Miami Marlins. The deal is reportedly for three years and roughly $27 million. The deal will officially be signed, sealed, delivered (I’m yours!) if Bell passes a physical in Miami later today.

There are several reasons that Bell’s decision comes as a surprise, one of them being the silence between the Marlins and Bell throughout the whole negotiating process. Ever since the end of the World Series in late October, the Marlins had been linked to several high-profile free agents like Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson. However, the rumors about where Heath Bell would end up signing were few and far between.

However, upon furthur review of the current bullpen situation in Miami, this acquisition makes all the sense in the world for the Marlins. Their closer from the last couple of years (Leo Nunez) has been having legal problems since the later part of the 2011 season because of an issue with his true identity. So in case Nunez / Juan Oviedo is unable to start the 2012 season, the Marlins decided to do some “CYA” and sign a legitimate All-Star closer.

Despite being 34 years old, Bell has experienced a career revival since the Mets sent him off to San Diego after the 2006 season. During his three seasons as San Diego’s full-time closer from 2009-2011, Bell earned at least 42 saves and was named to the National League All-Star team all 3 years. Bell is the only closer in MLB to record 40-plus saves each of the last 3 seasons.

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