Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry continues his relentless pursuit of a right-handed reliever. But at least this rumor involves a slightly more dominant type.

According to sources, the Cubs are kicking the tires again on Padres closer Heath Bell, as they did at the winter meetings. He would strengthen the bullpen, but Lou Piniella would be back to juggling two would-be closers in Bell and Carlos Marmol, who went 11-for-11 in save situations after Piniella gave him the job.

If you recall, the Cubs have had a long dalliance with Heath Bell – there were rumors of interest before the 2009 season, and then again during the 2009 season. Bell, 32, has been dominant in two of the last three seasons, and was pretty good in the third. He made just over $1 million last year, his first year of arbitration, and should get a significant raise this year.

There are two concerns with Bell: 1.) he led the National League in saves last year, his first as a closer – how do you make that guy a set-up pitcher, rather than the closer? You don’t. Carlos Marmol gone’ be pissed; and 2.) he has averaged an insane 80+ innings per season – all out of the bullpen – over the past three years.

Bell’s cost would make for an interesting discussion. Previously, the Padres had asked the Cubs for a king’s ransom, including at least one of their top prospects (at the time, it was Josh Vitters and Andrew Cashner). Given how much Bell is set to make in arbitration – topping $5 million wouldn’t be a shock – you would have to wonder whether that cost in trade would drop.

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  • Kevin Gallo

    I would love Bell on the Cubs, he is a great closer and a good guy. Living in San diego I have seen him pitch in person and his stuff is great. I have also met him, my daughters and I got his autograph last year and he sat and talk to us for about 15 min before the game. As you said Ace how much will he cost, I am not will to give up the farm system for him. They have too many holes that need to be addressed in the furture and I dont think the Club is good enough to win the World Series this year (I dont know have a good enough to make the playoff). So I would be hesitant on paying out too much on anyone this year. But getting him and having Cashner in the wing, it would make Marmols a good trading chip.

  • Savant

    Any worries about how effective he would be away from petco, and the rest of the caverns in the NL West?

    No particular reason, but he reminds me of Dave Smith. I also hate 32 year olds that still have multiple years of arbitration left.

    • Ace

      All of those are very good points. He was not particularly effective in his time with the Mets before coming to the Padres. I don’t think he’s worth any of the Cubs’ top prospects, given what his salary is going to be.