With the trade deadline almost exactly a month away, the talk surrounding how to change and strengthen the Texas Rangers bullpen will become a hot topic of conversation.
The one name who has continued to come up is San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell. He’s a guy the Rangers would love to have and a guy who would be a great fit at the back end of the bullpen.
But there’s just one problem.
Bell is a free agent after this season, and there is no guarantee he will sign a long term deal with Texas. Being 34-years old and seemingly at back end of his career, Bell wants to go where he can finally win a championship.
He’s been with the San Diego Padres for five seasons now and knows there really isn’t a light at the end of their tunnel. At least not any time soon.
The Padres are going to look for some young prospects from any team showing interest. The Rangers will be one of those teams, but the fear is having it end up as another “Cliff Lee deal.” In other words, send prospects to San Diego for a three month rental.
Texas sent Justin Smoak to Seattle at the trade deadline last season in return for Lee, even though they knew there was a good possibility he would end up going elsewhere once the season was over. Nolan Ryan didn’t seem as convinced, even saying at times he felt confident that they would be able to get a deal done and bring Lee back for the 2011 season.
But, no matter how much they tried to talk to him and woo him back to Arlington, Lee did what was best for him and his family, eventually signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Well, as it turns out, the Rangers might have to compete with the Phillies once more. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Philadelphia is apparently asking around for bullpen help and could turn their sights directly to the west coast and Bell.
With Jose Contreras out four to six weeks with a strained forearm, it’s only natural they would start shopping around to see who’s available. The Phillies, already boasting the likes of Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and the aforementioned Lee, would be an enticing place for Bell at this point in his career
But unless the Rangers can talk Bell in to signing long term as a part of a trade, general manager Jon Daniels along with Nolan Ryan, might have a hard time giving up top prospects for yet another rental. Even with Bell in the mix, this team is still a long shot to get back to the World Series, let alone repeat as ALCS Champions.