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When the trade deadline came and went, the Chicago Cubs weren’t the only team that was unable to deal away all the players they would have preferred. The San Diego Padres made a couple moves, but were left holding onto perhaps their biggest trade piece: closer Heath Bell.

Bell’s strong preference to stay in San Diego, combined with the Padres’ steep asking price (not to mention market competition on the seller side from their own setup man, Mike Adams), meant that, when July 31 came, the Padres couldn’t put a deal together sending Bell out of town.

But what about an August trade to a team like the Cardinals? Jayson Stark seems to think it could happen. I disagree. I don’t think Bell is going anywhere, and, even if he were, he’s more likely to go to the Chicago Cubs than any other team. I know. You’re confused. Bear with me.

First, here’s what Stark had to say about Bell:

Other teams now expect the Padres to make another attempt to trade Heath Bell this month, if only out of fear he could accept their arbitration offer next winter. And those efforts could begin as soon as this week.

Of course, the always-entertaining waiver rules would seem to make it impossible for the Padres to move Bell to Texas or Philadelphia, two of the teams that appeared most interested before the non-waiver trade deadline. But the collapse of the Pirates and Reds could put the Cardinals in perfect position to claim Bell and try to work out a deal.

Of the six remaining NL contenders, the Cardinals are tied with Arizona for the worst record (a half-game behind San Francisco). So if they slip behind those two teams again, they would have first dibs in the waiver order. But if the Cardinals heat up, those clubs could block Bell’s path to the other contenders. So the Padres will have to time Bell’s placement on waivers just right if they want to move him to St. Louis.

To my mind, Stark has it half right. The waiver rules indeed make it impossible for Bell to be traded to a team like Texas or Philadelphia. I think they also make it impossible for Bell to be traded to a team like St. Louis. Or even Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, for that matter.

Indeed, I think the only team the Padres to whom the Padres could trade Bell is … the Chicago Cubs.

I know what you’re thinking: why in the world would the Cubs, one of the worst teams in the league, and a team with a top-flight closer and setup man already, want to trade for another closer? And you’re right. The Cubs wouldn’t.

But the Cubs would absolutely want to claim Bell on waivers.

Remember, the waiver rules work thusly: the player placed on waivers (a requirement in order to make him tradable after July 31) is first offered to teams in his own league, in reverse order of the standings. That means, after the Astros, Bell would have to be offered the Cubs.

Stark concludes that the Cubs – and other teams long out of contention – would have no reason to claim Bell. Not so.

Bell is a free agent after this season, and makes just $2 million or so over the rest of the season (on a one-year, $7.5 million contract). He’s also going to be a Type A free agent, meriting two draft picks if he’s offered arbitration and declines. Bell says he loves San Diego – his family loves it, too. Do you think he’d accept arbitration from a team like, say, the Cubs?

Riddle me this: if the Cubs were offered Bell, essentially for free, don’t you think they’d be all too happy to take him and pay $2 million in exchange for two first round draft picks after the season, which would come when Bell undoubtedly declines arbitration? I certainly do. Or, that is to say, they certainly should.

I could see the Astros – a cash-strapped organization looking to dump salary at every turn – being unwilling to take on Bell’s salary and take the ever-so-tiny risk that he’d accept arbitration. I cannot, however, see every other team besides the “competitive” teams doing so. And first in line on that train are the Chicago Cubs.

Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert on the rules. There could, as always, be some strange contour to the waiver or arbitration rules that would make a claim on Bell unpalatable. But, as the facts are presently known, the Cubs would be crazy not to put in a claim on Bell.

That’s not to say the Cubs would actually get Bell, mind you. Waivers are revocable, and as soon as the Cubs put in a claim, the Padres would simply pull Bell back. That’s why it doesn’t seem likely that Bell will be traded, and, instead, it seems like the only team to whom he could be traded, would be the Cubs.

And, hey. You never know. Maybe the Padres would want to save the $2 million, knowing that Bell would accept arbitration in the Winter, costing them upwards of $10 million on Bell in 2012. Bell isn’t likely to be a Cub anytime soon (or ever), but, it seems to me they’ve got the best shot of any team outside of San Diego right now.

  • Toosh

    Excellent article, Ace! Brett, I mean. I just can’t wait for this season to end. How bad is that? Kenney, Hendry and Quade HAVE to go. Hopefully Ricketts feels the same way.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Toosh. You sound like most Cubs fans in August/September since 2008…

  • Angel

    Love that analysis. Never thought of it that way. The Cubs would be crazy to let Bell go by them.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Angel. Again, there could be some wrinkle out there that I don’t fully appreciate, but, as things stand, I agree. They’d be nuts.

      • Hogie

        Which means it won’t happen.

  • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

    Good reasoning.

    Get Bell, keep Bell, drop Grabow.

    So if Marmol walks more than 1 guy while closing, bring in Bell. If Marmol strikes out the side, bring in Bell for the next game.

    How many closers do you gots? 1? Lame. We have TWO.

    Or, better yet, they both stand on the mound and pitch at the same time. 2 strikes for the price of one. Or, if Marmol is throwing straight balls, Bell will hit strike 3 before Marmol hits ball 4.

    Golden.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nailed it. Make it happen, Jim.

  • Chuck

    The Cubs should absolutely put in a claim on Bell, but they’d have a ZERO percent chance at getting him for simply salary relief.

    The Padres would lose a tremendous amount of credibility with its fan base by letting him go for nothing when they could have traded him for SOMETHING at the deadline. Also, worst case is him accepting arbitration and then the Padres could trade him before the 2012 season starts so they’d get something in return if he accepts or the draft picks if he declines – both better than the simple salary relief.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You could have just said “ditto” to the last two paragraphs of the post. :) I kid. I kid. I know what you’re saying, and I agree. Good point.

  • dreese

    Great article and analysis Brett! That is a really interesting situation but is the cubs front office smart enough to realize this?

    “Heath Bell, should we claim him?”

    “Na, we have Marmol”

    “Yea your right, we do have Marmol!”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. Thanks, dreese.

    • Jeremy

      This was my first thought as well sadly. I don’t believe they are intelligent enough to realize the potential value here. Hopefully they read BN.

  • BoKnows

    I have to admit that when I saw this headline on Twitter, I assumed it was going to be stupid link bait (I clicked anyway). But it actually made sense. Good article.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, BoKnows (football). I work very hard not to do the whole “link bait” thing, so I’m glad you were satisfied.

  • CubFan Paul

    This is the type of move that Hendry has to convince San Diego to make, so that he gives Cricketts an agruement to not fire him ..even if it costs the Cubs a Top 100 prospect

    This could of been Hendry’s plan all along ..pullin the ol’ ropa a dope ..Good job Brett

  • Cheryl

    What about offering San Diego Marmol for Bell?

    • CubFan Paul

      Marmol makes $7million in 2012 and $9.8million in 2013

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yeah, I don’t want to get too sidetracked from the overall point of the post (Bell is almost impossible to trade now because teams like the Cubs *should* claim him on waivers), but the Padres would have no interest in Marmol. Too expensive for them. They’d just as soon sign Bell to a hometown extension.

  • Cheryl

    Too bad. Marmol is so inconsistent.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If only teams wanted him at the deadline… oh. Wait.

  • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

    I’m not wanting to get sidetracked either here, but this entire hypothetical I-know-it’s-not-going-to-actually-happen idea is reminding me of my Mongol horde plan for the Cubs.

    We. Need. To win the series. Every team likes to, sure, and every team is trying. But the Cubs HAVE to. After we win the world series, we can act like a regular baseball team and make reasonable decisions, but until then I say we pillage all of baseball like a Mongol horde and put the Yankees to shame.

    Sign Fielder, 10 years at whatever. Give Pujols whatever he wants. Pick up Sabathia. Scavenge any team looking for any salary relief and put together the best effing baseball team out there. Hang the costs. Total war. WIN. Find a list of free agents next year, sort them by awesomeness, and pluck the top of each list and pay them double salary. Buy the 2nd best just in case.

    Double our annual player salary for 5 years until we win a series. Steal everybody good. Hire players away from the competition even if they only sit on the bench. Buy the entire Dominican Republic.

    Ruthless? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. Reasonable? According to me.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You’re on a roll today, Caleb.

      • Kyle N

        “Look (insert player name), let’s cut the crap and let me spell it out for you.

        When the Cubs win the World Series, the ensuing party is going to make the 2004 Boston World Series victory look like a pathetic get-together of over-the-hill, pot-bellied has-beens at a neighborhood Applebees celebrating their company softball championship.

        We’re looking for the best. You are the best and that is why we are going to offer you lots of money. We’re going to kick this damn championship drought in the teeth. I don’t want anyone who is going to wilt under the pressure when we reach the playoffs.

        You help us win, you’ll get perks. You can go into any bar in Wrigleyville and order whatever the hell you want and get it paid for. You will be the subject of podcasts, sports talk shows, and biographies for decades to come. The phrase, “Where were YOU the moment the Cubs won the World Series?” will become conversation starters at status-seeking cocktail parties.

        So, what do you say? Do you want this chance? Or would you rather sign to be the shiny gold turd in the outhouse that is some perennial bottom-feeder?

        So sign the contract, or get the hell out of my office.

        (Now THAT, would be awesome to say as a GM!)

        (On another note. . . I hate to admit this, but Boston has officially replaced New York as my least favorite team in MLB. Don’t get me wrong, Fenway Park is a landmark, incredibly beautiful and full of awesome baseball history. Like any true dedicated sports fan, you have to respect the true Red Sox fans. My trip to see the Cubs play there was a rousing success.
        That being said, Boston fans bitch. A lot. They would complain about a blowjob. (Bill Simmons said that, and he’s one of the true die-hards) You can’t deny their recent success, but you seriously have to put it in perspective.

        Okay, here goes. . . *Deep inhale ala Ace Ventura*
        It’s like that incredibly overweight friend who only recently decided to lose a bunch of weight. They worked hard, you supported them, and they ultimately transformed themselves. Instead of staying grounded from having shook the monkey off their back, they are now dispensing medical advice, reprimanding people for their “unhealthy” lifestyles (Why are you drinking that? High Fructose Corn Syrup is bad bro. I only eat organic proteins. Can I have a salad even though it’s 1AM at a crowded sports bar? Gotta watch the carbs. . .) and is trying their hardest to convince everyone that they have always had the cut body of a Navy Seal or Miss Universe contestant. NEWS FLASH! One year ago you were eating burritos at 2AM and slamming beer like they were going to nuke the Budweiser Brewery. ATTENTION BOSTON! You were that fat guy! You were never always this good! You have two world series titles since the damn automobile became mainstream. You know how many other teams can say the same? How about pretty much everyone else.

        *Exhale*

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Wow. That was a meandering, engaging, funny, enlightening thing of beauty. Well done.

          • http://Bleachernation.com Bric

            Any time you can work the term “Pot bellied” into a posting it’s worth the read. I also agree that Fenway is as much a land mark as Wrigley. Any park that has something called the Pesky pole not because it’s a pain in the ass obstacle but because it’s named after a dude named Pesky you have something special. It’s similar to the W flag being raised to let riders on the El 80 years ago (and those without a phone still living as if were 80 years ago) know who won.

            Sadly, too many of the newer parks try to instantly create history with cheesy stunts like swimming pools, ridiculous porches and dimensions, bull pens on top of each other, and mountains in the outfield among others. When will these children learn?

        • MichiganGoat

          I’m right there with about Boston, one of my closest friends is a die hard Sox fan and we lamented after 2003 (remember how close MLB was to the greatest series ever). I was at the bar with him for each game of the 2004 series and proudly wore a Sox cap he bought me to wear for that epic sox/yank series. I celebrated the Series victory, I figured if my Cubs weren’t there I should support their AL brother in misery. I remember telling him after the win to savor the victory and never again bitch about all the hard losses and NEVER EVER EVER become angry or whinny if the Sox never win again in his life. Well what does he do know, bitch and complain about every move as if they are in a drought. I hope we all get to taste that victory but remember to never act like the babies in Sox/Yank nation.

        • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

          Great work. Since my new roommate is a Red Sox fan, I might borrow a bit of this to shut her when she bitches about the team.

          I might even get her a framed Applebees poster with “Way to go Red Sox!” photoshopped onto a flag out front. Maybe with Ortiz standing outside waiting for a table in his uniform. “Man… hope they still got some ribs when I get my table!”

          Also, I know right?

    • CubFan Paul

      ..that plan has been done before!

    • pfk

      Seriously, I think this idea has merit. I laughed at first – but think about it. The Cubs normal payroll is going to be between $120M and $140M. So, if we spend another $100M there is a good chance we could win a World Series. We could go to top players and ask if they want to be part of an amazing legacy and celebration – something they never would have experienced elsewhere. The cost would be about $100M to win it all. From an investment standpoint, I think one could justify the $100M. Seriously.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Spending another $100 million would put the Cubs’ payroll on par with the Yankees. And they don’t win it every year…

        • MichiganGoat

          Yeah you need Chemistry to win it all

          • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

            And upside.

        • pfk

          Which underscores the fact that, in my opinion, Brian Cashman is NOT a great GM. If the Cubs’ payroll were $240M – $260M and they had a good GM, I’m sure they could buy a WS title. They not only would have the money but they would have the added attraction of being able to bring a title to Wrigley. There are those, like CC, who’ve won a title and who might like to make history. This is one of those fun but silly discussions in a bar while enjoying several beers and a monster plate of nachos and extra jalapenos.

  • philoe beddoe

    First off…this makes too much sense, second the Cubs would have to give something up to get Bell since the Padres would no doubt pull him back……..

  • Robbo

    I like the idea to put in a claim for Bell. Only problem if Pads decide they want to save the $2 mil and let Cubs claim Bell to dump salary then Cubs are on the hook. And if Bell decided he wanted to go to arbitration next season Cubs could owe him another $8 or $9 mil next year. Meanwhile Ricketts stock in TD Ameritrade just dropped 22% in the past week. Not sure the Ricketts fam will be ready to open up the checkbook right now.

    • hansman1982

      Then you trade Marmol for what you can get – that would keep the salary hit basically neutral and you would get a much more consistant closer

  • Cheryl

    Yes, the Cubs would have to give something up. That’s why I suggested Marmol. Surely they could negotiate any monies needed to offset his price. It would be nice to have someone like Bell who is more consistent. Besides Marmol they could throw in Sota. Aren’t the Padres looking for a catcher? Get Bell to start with. Then, when they have permission to talk with him, ask him what it would take to sign a four year contract as the new closer for the cubs. See what it would cost. I’m not crazy about Fielder or Pujols. But Caleb is right. scavenge for the best, besides Fielder and Pujols, but don’t sign them to long term contracts like Soriano. Continue to improve the farm system and bring up the good players over time to replace these vets that Quade insists on playing.

  • Andrewmoo

    I belive CC can opt out of his contract thus tear with the Yankees. I bet he’s coming to the cubs :D

    • Jeff

      I definitely wouldn’t complain seeing Sabathia in a Cubs uniform. I would have the same cautions about him that I would Pujols or Fielder. He is in his 30’s, he has pitched a lot of innings in the last 4 years, and he doesn’t have a healthy body type. I think he’s going to be looking for a long term, big money deal, if he opts out.

  • Steve

    Just get me Began LaHair. Get him, and his .332 BA, 30 Homers, and 86 RBIs to Chicago. I’m sure that Carlos Pena would love to have those numbers.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m sure Carlos Pena would have those numbers if he were playing at AAA in the PCL.

  • Steve

    *that’s ‘Bryan’. My phone, obviously, is under the belief that I need spelling help.

  • philoe beddoe

    Isn’t that guy like thirty?…and most scouts say AAA (especially PCL) is easier to hit at than AA….hence Brett Jackson struggling in AA and tearing cover off of ball in AAA….it’s just so hard to tell with hitters because MLB pitching is so much better than anythinig they have ever faced…

    NERDY SCIENCE FACT- I am reading a book about the subconscious, and in the book it says that the fastest our conscious mind can process is at .5 of a second….to swing at a 100 MPH fastball a hitter must swing at .4……so the book concludes that MLB hitters use their sub-conscious to hit

    never said I wasn’t a geek

    • http://Bleachernation Bric

      I believe that’s probably true but luckily most pitchers throw in the low 90s so most hitters do have a split second to consciously decide whether to swing or not, even at a fast ball. The fact also fails to adress that not only the hitter but the catcher has no time to consciously react either, which probably explains why so many triple digit heat throwers are as wild as they are.

    • ron

      We teach .25 seconds when we shoot, that is why reactive steel is best for the instant feedback. The best shooters use their sub-conscience…so they say.

  • philoe beddoe

    good point about the catchers….just look at the drop off from a pitcher who is like in the top 100 and say….Rodrigo Lopez….AAA is full of Rodrigo Lopezes…..a scout told me a long time ago if they can hit at AA in their early 20’s then they are legit…it is true that some guys develop late(Ryan Howard) so this Began LaHair could be good…but he is probably more like that guy from a couple years ago…lefty firstbaseman…everybody wanted him in there…can’t think of his name right now….went to Japan I think….

  • philoe beddoe

    micah houffpair!

    • MichiganGoat

      Hehe, I remember people calling for Micah to start and Lee to get benched.

  • MichiganGoat

    Speaking of wavier trades ARam is doing nothing to help his value:

    Aramis Ramirez – Last 30 days AVG .232, SLG .757
    Last 15 days AVG .163, SLG .570

    If he ends the season with just a month and a half of quality baseball I hope we don’t pick up his option and use that 14M on another starter, and I’m sure we can find a player who can perform consistently for a lower price.

    • CubFan Paul

      Castro is that guy MG ..Let Ramy walk, move to Castro to 3rd, sign Reyes to a 1year deal (he’ll have to, to reestablish his value), sign Fielder for 1st & hope like hell Castro hits 20plus HomeRuns next year playing a new position

      • MichiganGoat

        I’m all for Reyes if he takes a 1-3 year deal, but I think he’ll want more. Castro at third I’ve heard before, as well as second, I’m just not sure where he fits best right now. But a year of Fielder, Reyes, and Castro is a formidable group.

        • CubFan Paul

          i said 1yr deal for Reyes ..he’s on his 2nd DL stint now (possibly 3rd) &if you include the off days he’s had to “rest” he might as well have had a 60day stint ..thats overstated, but he hasn’t played a full season since ’08

          at his age he’ll be lucky to get 4yrs/$60million, which by the way i would give that to him in a heartbeat, move Castro to 3rd, sign Fielder to $23mil/yr, and lockup Cj Wilson longterm amongst other things

          the money is there, it just depends on the Ricketts’ willingness to win next year. Even with all those moves Kemp can still be signed the year after withOUT going over ‘budget’ because Big Z’s $18mil & Dempsters’s $16mil comes of the books

          im tired of people whining about the money the cubs “dont have” pining for another season of losing ..the 2012 win/loss record can be reversed from 62-100 Mr. Ricketts

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I don’t think any Cubs fan is “pining for another season of losing.” You’re being dramatic.

  • Seth Majewski

    I would only want reyes if he would sign around 3 years/40 million which isnt very realistic. I’d much rather save the money and go after kemp in next years free agency.

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