Marlins won't have Heath Bell to kick around any longer after dealing him to Arizona

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
Heath Bell went 4-5 with a 5.09 ERA in 73 appearances this season and lost his closer job multiple times. (US Presswire)

As the Marlins begin clearing the wreckage from a miserable season, the Bell tolls in South Florida for ... Heath. The most disappointing free-agent acquisition in the game last winter is out of Florida.

The Marlins dealt Heath Bell to the Diamondbacks in a three-way trade that accomplished the dual purpose of relieving Miami of Bell and relieving Bell of manager Ozzie Guillen (or, perhaps, better to reverse that and say it relieves Guillen of Bell). The Diamondbacks will receive $8 million from the Marlins to offset the remaining two years and $18 million owed Bell.

Though he later said it came out wrong, it was hard to see Bell and Guillen co-existing in 2013 after the deposed closer went on a local radio program during the season's final days and said it was "hard to respect" Guillen.

While there has been rampant speculation regarding whether Guillen will wind up being a short-timer in Miami, Bell beats him to the exit doors.

This move is one indication that perhaps Guillen, whose status is expected to be addressed at the Marlins' organizational meetings in New York this week, will, in fact, return.

Bell went 4-5 with a 5.09 ERA in 73 appearances this season and lost his closer's job multiple times en route to blowing eight of 27 save opportunities. Lured into a false sense of security by their expensive new free-agent acquisitions -- Bell, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle -- the Marlins never did take flight. They started losing almost immediately, and Bell got off to such a bad start he was out as closer before the season's first month was finished.

Guillen, of course, already was in hot water by that time, suspended during the first week of the season for his comments about Fidel Castro that enraged South Florida's sizable Cuban community.

Together, Guillen and Bell never mixed, as evidenced when they fired shots at each other over the local Miami radio waves.

In an extraordinary scene that played out in Atlanta shortly after Bell said it was hard to respect Guillen, the manager went on his weekly radio call-in show on 790 The Ticket and, as he did, the Marlins cranked the show up in the clubhouse for all to hear with Bell sitting at his locker.

Among other things, Guillen said he still respected Bell as a player but, "as a guy, I don't know."

Guillen also said Bell was practiced at blaming others. That feeling permeated the Marlins' clubhouse as well, with players watching Bell cast in a negative light, among others, pitching coach Randy St. Claire and the club's training staff.

"I am the No. 1 guy he's talked about this year," Guillen said on his radio show that day. "This kid has been saying so many things all year about a lot of people. It was my turn this week."

The Marlins finished the season at 69-93, dead last in the NL East, 29 games behind the Washington Nationals.

The Diamondbacks clearly are hoping the Bell they've acquired is the one who collected 132 saves in San Diego from 2009-11, becoming a three-time National League All-Star in the process.

But there could be a closer controversy next spring in Arizona: Earlier Saturday, the Diamondbacks picked up the option of closer J.J. Putz, who has compiled 77 saves for them over the past two seasons.

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