The Washington Nationals have cut ties with right-hander Heath Bell, releasing the 37-year-old embattled former All-Star, per MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo. Interestingly enough, Bell appeared earlier today in Washington's spring training matchup against the New York Yankees, allowing no batters to reach base in one inning.
The Nationals had signed Bell to a minor-league deal in late-December, guaranteeing him a $1 million base salary at the big league level. According to Cotillo, Bell will attempt to catch on elsewhere, and there seems to be a reasonable chance of that happening considering he was a serviceable arm as recently as two seasons ago.
From 2009 to 2011, Bell staked his claim as one of the best closers in baseball, earning three consecutive All-Star appearances and locking down the ninth for the San Diego Padres. However, since departing for the Miami Marlins as a free agent at the conclusion of the 2011 season, Bell has been a rather enigmatic disappointment. He floundered out of Miami after just one season (5.09 ERA, 3.72 FIP in 63.2 innings), landing with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In Arizona, Bell had a decent bounceback season in middle relief, posting a 4.11 ERA and 94 ERA+ in 65.2 innings.
The Diamondbacks dealt him to the Tampa Bay Rays last offseason, and Bell was miserable in a 17.1 inning stint with Tampa Bay, putting up a 7.27 ERA. The Rays released Bell in early May, and he spent the remainder of the season at the Triple-A level for the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, even struggling in the minors with a 5.51 ERA.
Even with his scoreless appearance on Monday, Bell was having a rough spring. Taking into account the general irrelevance of spring training statistics, Bell posted a 6.75 ERA with five strikeouts and four walks in 5.1 innings before his release.