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Padres GM: No three-year contracts

On Monday, Heath Bell’s three-year deal for $27 million with the Marlins became official.

The Padres, in their search for not only his replacement but an eighth-inning specialist, pressed on with their offseason agenda, knowing they now have a little more financial wiggle room after Bell signed (remember, they had offered him arbitration and would have been on the hook for $9-10 million had he accepted).

But the Padres and general manager Josh Byrnes won’t be frivolous with their extra loot, as Byrnes indicated that the team will not offer a free agent starting pitcher or reliever a deal with terms covering three years. In short, the Padres don’t want to be tied to any long-term deals, deals that often look pretty ugly for the club as far as bang for buck at the end of the deal.

Could that mean the Padres will look for a closer through trade? The team engaged more teams than agents on Monday and talks on several fronts. Could Tuesday be the day Byrnes and his team find a closer? Stayed tuned.

– Corey Brock

Bell headed to Marlins … who closes for the Padres?

The Padres finally got the clarity to the Heath Bell situation that they needed/wanted late Thursday, when reports came out that Bell had agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with the Marlins.

Bell had until Dec. 7 to accept or decline the Padres arbitration offer (or, of course, sign elsewhere). That he has done so (though not officially) before the Winter Meetings could help the Padres in their pursuit of …

You guessed it, a closer. Not just a closer to replace Bell, but the Padres would love to find an eighth-inning specialist to set-up their to-be-named closer.

Look for the Padres to acquire relief help instead of spending big in free agency. They don’t want to — and with a projected payroll of around $53-55 million — get stuck with a long, hefty contract.

The Padres were linked to A’s closer Andrew Bailey on Friday, though the A’s want offense in return. The Padres don’t have much to move, unless they part with third baseman Chase Headley and/or outfielder Kyle Blanks, who could be moved in the right deal.

Stayed tuned, things could get interesting.

– Corey Brock

 

Padres still waiting on Bell

New Padres general manager Josh Byrnes has made his first trade (catcher John Baker) and signed his first free agent (outfielder Mark Kotsay).

What will his next move be?

That likely depends a lot on whether closer Heath Bell accepts or declines the Padres arbitration offer. Here’s an in-depth look at the particulars, but it comes down to this:

– If Bell accepts the Padres offer, the team won’t have as much financial flexibility this winter.

– If Bell declines the offer and signs elsewhere, the team not only gets the two Draft picks it covets but also will have more financial wiggle room this winter.

For now, look for the Padres to sign a Minor League free agent starting pitcher (or two), look for help for the bullpen (even if Bell returns) and help for the bench in the days leading up to the start of the Winter Meetings in Dallas, Dec. 5-8.

– Corey Brock

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

Padres’ Byrnes makes first move

New Padres general manager Josh Byrnes is rumored to be close to his first acquisition with San Diego, as the team has been linked to veteran outfielder Mark Kotsay.
A report on FoxSports.com said Kotsay has agreed to a one-year deal for $1.25 million, pending a physical. Neither Byrnes nor the Padres have confirmed that a deal is in place.
The Padres are, among other things, looking to add to their bench to give manager Bud Black more options. Also, the team ranked last in baseball with its .229 average against right-handed pitching. The left-handed hitting Kotsay will give them a bat off the bench and someone who can play all three outfield positions and some first base.

– Corey Brock

Pirates get Ludwick from the Padres

SAN DIEGO – One year to the day after landing outfielder Ryan Ludwick, the Padres on Sunday dealt their best run-producer to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ludwick, who is hitting .238 with 11 home runs and a team-best 64 RBIs, was shipped to the Pirates for a player to be named later.

Ludwick, who turned 33 on July 13 and can play left and right field, will be a free agent following the season. He’s making $6.775 million this season.

Ludwick was in the original starting lineup for Sunday’s game against the Rockies but he was later scratched.

– Corey Brock

It’s Adams (not Bell) going from San Diego to Texas

SAN DIEGO – The Padres dealt a highly-regarded reliever Sunday, though it wasn’t the move everyone figured was coming.

The Padres traded eighth-inning specialist, right-hander Mike Adams to the Rangers for two Minor League pitchers, left-hander Robbie Erlin and right-hander Joe Wieland.

Adams, who turned 33 on Friday, is 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in 48 appearances. Since the 2009 season, Adams – regarded as one of the top set-up men in the game, has posted a 1.31 ERA in 155 appearances.

The trade came as a surprise to Adams, who admitted that he figured that closer Heath Bell would be traded on Sunday.

“I came in this morning prepared to be the closer. I honestly thought Heath (Bell) would be moved. This is a shock,” Adams said.

The Padres, who were seeking impact players with upside in any deal, land Erlin, a 20-year-old who was a third-round Draft pick in 2009. Erlin is 8-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) between Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco.

Wieland, 21, was a teammate of Erlin’s in Frisco. He made news on Friday for tossing a no-hitter against the Padres’ Double-A affiliate, San Antonio. Wieland is a combined 10-3 with a 1.80 in 21 games (20 starts) between Myrtle Beach and Frisco.

Wieland was a fourth-round pick in the 2008 Draft.

– Corey Brock

Moving day for the Padres?

Is there another organization in baseball with as many interesting and attractive pieces to move between now and Sunday’s trade deadline as the Padres?

Before now and Sunday’s 1 p.m. PT deadline, consider what might happen with the Padres.

Three-time closer Heath Bell figures to be on his way out of town, possibly to the Rangers, who to date have shown the most interest. Bell would love to stay in San Diego, but if the Padres truly aren’t interested in trading set-up guy Mike Adams, they almost certainly have to move Bell.

Reliever Chad Qualls also figures to be traded. A former closer, Qualls has been healthy this season and rediscovered his power sinker. Better still, he could be a low-cost option for a contender.

Outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who can play left or right field, has 62 RBIs this season and could help a team looking for a bat for the stretch run. Ludwick is also a great clubhouse guy who would have no trouble assimilating himself wherever he goes. The Braves and Indians have shown interest.

Pitcher Aaron Harang’s homecoming to his native San Diego has gone well. He’s 9-2 with a 3.45 ERA, granted that a lot of his success has come at pitcher-friendly PETCO Park. Still, for a team looking to add a starter, he could be a viable option.

The Padres are looking to add impact players with upside and I would imagine they want to add a catcher and possibly a shortstop in at least one of these deals.

– Corey Brock

Padres: Trade Adams or Bell?

It’s less than two weeks before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and the Padres find themselves with an interesting conundrum on their hands: Trade three-time All-Star closer Heath Bell or reliever Mike Adams, who is regarded as one of the top eighth-inning specialists in the game?

Bell is making $7.5 million and will be a free agent after the season. He loves San Diego. He’s making his home here and, if he had the choice, would remain a Padre for life. If the Padres don’t like the package of players offered for him, they could hang onto him, offer him arbitration (pray he declines) and then add two Draft picks in 2012. But what if he accepts? There’s a big risk there for a club that had a $43 million payroll and isn’t interested in devoting a large portion of their payroll to a non position player.

Adams, who at 32 is 10 months younger than Bell, could attract the best compensation package. The Padres are looking for young, controllable players. Impact players with upside. Players, presumably, no more than a year or so away from being able to contribute at the Major League level. For a team looking for a late-inning reliever or even a possible closer (though Adams hasn’t done that at the Major League level) Adams looks like a very viable option. And that he is under club control for 2012 makes him even more attractive.

So who goes? That will depend on the best offer. Moving Bell might make the best financial sense for the Padres. But a deal for Adams could get them the pieces the team covets to build moving forward.

– Corey Brock

Padres have attractive pieces to move

San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer has been busy in recent weeks fielding calls from other teams about relievers who are expected to be available — three-time All-Star Heath Bell, Chad Qualls and, quite possibly, Mike Adams.

The Padres are also looking to move left fielder Ryan Ludwick to a team looking for a right-handed, middle-of-the-order bat.

But, make no mistake, the relievers are getting the most hits.

Bell will be a free agent after the season, so he might end up a rental for a team. If that’s the case, it won’t be easy to land a big prospect package.

Qualls, after a terrible 2010 season, has reestablished himself as a viable late-inning reliever as his hard sinker has returned.

Adams is a wild card here. Many view him as a future close, a spot he figures to land in if the Padres traded Bell.
He’s under team control through 2012 and would get the Padres the best package of prospects if they decided to deal him.

What are the Padres looking for?

Keep this in mind: Upside, impact players. Their farm system doesn’t have too many players ready to graduate to the Major League level. I would expect the Padres to ask for a shortstop/second baseman and catcher in return when they choose to make a deal.

The Phillies and Reds have more of these pieces than, say, the Cardinals. The Cardinals aren’t going to part with Shelby Miller and they don’t have a lot of prospects close to the Major Leagues.

The next two weeks should be interesting. Teams aren’t nearly as willing to part with prospects as they once were. Will the Padres land the upside/impact prospects they covet?

Stay tuned.

– Corey Brock

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