Padres waiting on Bell decision

On Tuesday, news broke that the Padres were close to agreeing on a one-year deal for outfielder Mark Kotsay worth$1.25 million, a move they hope will help fortify the bench in 2012.

That move (when it becomes official, pending a physical) will be the first acquisition by new general manager Josh Byrnes.

When his next move will come is anyone’s guess — especially since Byrnes and the Padres are waiting to hear from free agent closer Heath Bell on if he’ll accept arbitration or decline it.

“Obviously, the Heath Bell situation will affect us a lot. If he doesn’t accept [arbitration], we’ll have more money,” Byrnes said recently. “… Right now, things are moving a little slower until we know what happens with Heath.”

The Padres plan to offer him arbitration, thinking he’ll decline it and chase a bigger contract elsewhere. That way, the Padres will collect to supplemental round Draft picks.

However, Bell said he won’t decide until the deadline to do so, 8:59 p.m. PT on Dec. 7.  That could make it tough for the Padres — who will have a payroll of around $54 million — to acquire more prolific free agents until that decision is made.

– Corey Brock

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