The Rays have designated Heath Bell for assignment, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has confirmed. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports right-hander Nate Karns was called up to fill the roster spot.
Bell, 36, was acquired from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade with the Reds over the winter. Ryan Hanigan and David Holmberg were the other key pieces in the deal. Tampa Bay had hoped the former All-Star closer would regain his form and at least be a serviceable middle reliever.
In 13 games and 17 1/3 innings with Rays, Bell had a 7.27 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP. He has a 4.91 ERA with a 1.51 WHIP in 146 2/23 innings since signing a three-year, $27 million contract with the Marlins prior to the 2012 season.
The Rays still owe Bell $5.5 million of his $9 million salary this year. Once he clears waivers and becomes a free agent -- an inevitability since no team will assume that salary via waivers -- another club can sign Bell for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. If that happens, he will collect paychecks from four teams in 2014 (Rays, Marlins, D-Backs, new team).
Karns, 26, was acquired from the Nationals in the Jose Lobaton trade this past offseason. He has an 8.20 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP in six starts and 263 1/3 Triple-A innings this year, but he can give the team multiple innings, which they need with an overworked bullpen.