The Tampa Bay Rays designated reliever Heath Bell for assignment on Sunday in order to make room for callup Nathan Karns, according to a team announcement. The team will now have ten days to trade, release or waive Bell.
Bell, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade last December, was 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in 17.1 innings over 13 appearances for Tampa. They are responsible for $5.5M of his $9M salary for this season, making their decision to cut him loose a bit of a surprising one.
Although Bell has struggled out of the gate this season, he may draw trade interest from teams with struggling bullpens who could use a veteran arm. The Astros, Blue Jays, Phillies and White Sox come to mind as potential destinations for the 36-year old, who is just three years removed from being named to the NL All-Star team.
In eleven major league seasons with the Mets (2004-2006), Padres (2007-2011), Marlins (2012), Diamondbacks (2013) and Rays (2014), Bell has a lifetime 38-32 record and 3.49 ERA while posting 168 saves in 590 appearances. He was an All-Star for the Padres in 2009, 2010 and 2011, finishing eighth in NL Cy Young award voting after posting a 1.93 ERA and saving 47 games in 2010.
Karns, 26, is 2-2 with an 8.20 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Durham so far this season. He was acquired in an offseason trade that sent Jose Lobaton to the Nationals.