Following his release from the Tampa Bay Rays it didn’t take long for Heath Bell to land with another team. The 36 year old right-hander has reportedly agreed to a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo notes that Bell will receive a pair of opt out dates in the deal if he hasn’t been added to the team’s MLB roster.
He is expected to report to the team’s Triple-A Norfolk affiliate in the coming days.
Bell had made just 13 appearances for the Rays after joining the team in an offseason trade. His 7.27 ERA and 1.846 WHIP marked career worsts before Tampa Bay designated him for assignment two weeks ago, ultimately releasing him last Sunday. Since signing a major free agent deal prior to the 2011 season with the Miami Marlins, Bell has compiled a 4.91 ERA and 1.507 WHIP over 146.2 IP. He’s been traded twice since that deal was signed and the Orioles will mark his fourth organization in the past three years.
Baltimore will only pay Bell a pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum for the remainder of the season. He’s still due approximately $9.5 Million for the 2014 season, but that figure will be paid by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Rays (who are on the hook for $5.5 Million to now watch Bell pitch for a division rival).
The Orioles have seen mixed results from their bullpen on the year so far, perhaps explaining their interest in Bell in the first place. Darren O’Day (0.54 ERA, 1.020 WHIP, 16.2 IP) and Zach Britton (0.81, 0.851, 22.1) have both been solid contributors while Ryan Webb (3.78, 1.200, 16.2) and Brian Matusz (3.46, 1.769, 13.0) have also posted respectable numbers (though Matusz could stand to limit the free passes, with 6.2 BB/9). Beyond that the team’s seen little to be encouraged about from their relievers, in particular from their de facto closer Tommy Hunter (6.60, 1.867, 15.0).