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MLB Trade Rumors: Should the Reds Target Heath Bell?

On Sunday, Reds closer Francisco Cordero blew his third save in a row and 5th in 22 chances, or 23% of his save opportunities. For the season, he is 3-3 with 17 saves, a 2.95 ERA, a 4.09 xFIP, and a 1.08 WHIP, so he has been effective, with the exception of the 5 blown saves. What isn't obvious is his rapid drop in strikeout rate. Here are Cordero's K rates since 2007:

2007- 12.22

2008- 9.98

2009- 7.83

2010- 7.31

2011- 6.13

So, his K rate has been cut in half over the last 4 seasons. Not a good sign for a pitcher you call your closer. With the Reds four games out of the diviision lead in the NL Central, and nine games out in the NL Wildcard race with seven teams ahead of them, now is the time to address an area of need, and they might look into trading for another closer.

More after the jump:

The one name the jumps out for me is Padres closer Heath Bell. Bell is having another solid season closing games in San Diego, as he is 2-3 with 26 saves in 27 chances, a 2.43 ERA, an xFIP of 3.78 and a WHIP of 1.19.

One area of concern for teams trading for Bell is the insane drop in his strikeout rate this season. His K rate has dropped from 11.06 to 6.57 this season. But on the positive side of the ledger, Bell has not allowed a home run this season. You may say "well, of course, he pitches in the best pitchers park in baseball, no wonder he hasn't given up a home run." Looking at his batted ball data you can see he is giving up a fly ball rate of just 35.8% and has done so at a career rate of 31.6%, so moving from Petco Park to Great American Ball Park should not result in a huge increase of home runs allowed. And, since becoming a full-time closer, Bell has given up just 4 home runs in 176+ innings or work.

The Padres are in full rebuild mode, and the Reds, as I have written previously here, have plenty of prospects to offer in a deal for Bell. Petco Park is a pitchers park, so trading for a power hitter is not necessarily at the top of the Padres list in potential trades. Building the team around pitching, defense and speed is the way to build a winner in San Diego, and the Red have one of the fastest base runners in the minors in second base prospect Billy Hamilton.

Hamilton was ranked as the 50th best prospect in baseball coming into this season by Baseball America mainly due to his speed. In the Pioneer League last season, he hit .318-.383-.456 with 61 runs scored and 48 stolen bases in 293 at bats. This season, playing in Low A ball, Hamilton is struggling at the plate, hitting .24-.296-.316 with 48 runs scored and 64 stolen bases in 332 at bats.

The Reds could also offer AA catching prospect Yasmani Grandal in the deal and I would have to imagine Padres GM Jed Hoyer would have to jump at the chance to grab these two guys for his closer. Grandal is hitting .326-.367-.543 in 46 AA at bats, with a HR and 10 RBIs. Prior to his promotion to AA, Grandal hit .296-.410-.510 with 10 HRs, 40 RBIs and an excellent 57-41 K/BB rate in 206 at bats.

Should the Reds trade for Padres closer Heath Bell?