Bell surprised to not be traded at Deadline

Bell surprised to not be traded at Deadline

SANDIEGO -- Mike Adams had but one thought when he arrived at PETCO Park for the Padres game Sunday against the Rockies.

"I came in this morning, honestly prepared to start being the closer," he said.

Instead, it was Adams who was dealt to the Rangers, not three-time All-Star closer Heath Bell, who figured he was the one headed to a pennant contender.

"I'm actually really surprised," Bell said of not being traded. "We talked about it in the offseason, we talked about it in Spring Training and we talked about it in April and May when no one was talking about it."

Trade Include

So where does that leave Bell, the highest-paid member of the Padres who had prepared himself for a trade, one that he expected for months?

Try cautiously optimistic.

Bell said after Sunday's 8-3 victory over the Rockies that he would love nothing more than to remain in San Diego. Bell said he's looking for a three-year deal and also said he'd stick to his original statement of taking a discount.

"I would take less than what I'm making on the open market," said Bell, who is the highest-paid player on the roster at $7.5 million.

The Padres are now in the position where they'll need to try and negotiate a deal to keep the 34-year-old Bell or offer the soon-to-be free agent salary arbitration after the season and hope he declines and signs elsewhere.

If that is indeed the case, the Padres would collect two additional Draft picks in 2012. There is also an outside chance that Bell could be dealt during the waiver period in August.

"We had some discussions with (agent) and with Heath about staying here. I'm not sure if it's going to happen or not, but it's certainly something we're open to," San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer said.

"If we can keep him here, given our financial constraints, that's fantastic. But also we did not get an offer that we felt like made a lot of sense to us, given the draft-pick compensation and given our desire to potentially keep him."

Since the start of 2009, Bell has 119 saves, tying him with Brian Wilson of the Giants for most in the Majors during that time. Bell also has a 91.5 success rate as a closer over that same period of time.

Bell pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Sunday and received a standing ovation from what was left of the crowd of 25,716 at PETCO Park.

"At the end of the day, I'm happy to be here," Bell said.

The Padres were busy on Sunday, though not as busy as some might have expected. They did land left-handed pitcher Robbie Erlin and right-hander Joe Wieland in the trade with the Rangers for Adams.

Also, the Padres sent outfielder Ryan Ludwick -- their top run-producer with 64 RBIs in 2011 -- to the Pirates for a player to be named later or cash.

Starting pitcher Aaron Harang and reliever Chad Qualls remained, though, as did Bell.

A year ago, the Padres added Ludwick from the Cardinals and shortstop Miguel Tejada from the Orioles for a pennant push that saw them win 90 games but finish one win shy of the postseason.

This year, though, Hoyer and the Padres (47-62) have found themselves in the unenviable position of being sellers.

"We worked very hard ... we're very happy with our results," Hoyer said. "It's different being a seller. The goal is to win games and, unfortunately, we are not doing enough of that.

"Hopefully, the parts we brought back today make us a consistent winner. Hopefully, it builds that talent back where we want it to be."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.