The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to sign reliever Heath Bell to a minor league contract, according to a baseball source with knowledge of the negotiations. The deal, which is pending a physical, was first reported as completed by Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. We first reported yesterday that Bell had serious interest from four teams, including the Orioles and Mariners.
According to a source, Bell will report to Triple-A Norfolk and is could join the Orioles' major league bullpen within the next week to ten days. He has two opt-out dates in his contract, including one that allows him to opt out in two to three weeks if he is not in the major leagues. If Bell makes the Orioles' major league roster, he will receive the pro-rated major league minimum salary in addition to the $3.5M from the Marlins and $5.5M from the Rays that he will be paid as a result of the three-year, $27 million deal that he signed with Miami in 2011.
Bell joins an Orioles' bullpen that has struggled a bit this season, posting a 3.77 ERA (15th in the majors) and a batting-average-against of .270 (29th in the majors). While Tommy Hunter is expected to remain as the team's closer, Bell could pitch some high-leverage innings as the season continues.
Bell was recently designated for assignment and subsequently released by the Rays after pitching to a 1-1 record and 7.27 ERA in thirteen relief appearances so far this season. In eleven major league seasons with the Mets (2004-2006), Padres (2007-2011), Marlins(2012), Diamondbacks (2013) and Rays (2014), Bell is the owner of a lifetime 3.49 ERA and 168 saves. He was an NL All-Star in three consecutive seasons from 2009 to 2011.