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The Miami Marlins traded former closer Heath Bell on Saturday, just 17 days after the end of a very disappointing season for both Bell and the team. The Marlins made very clear that they think they are a better team without Bell, sending him to the Arizona Diamondbacks and agreeing to pay $8 million of the $21 million due Bell over the next two seasons.
The Marlins signed Bell to a $27 million contract last winter, expecting him to be the closer who led MLB in saves over the previous three seasons. Instead, they got a mistake-prone hurler who was twice demoted from the closing role when manager Ozzie Guillen could no longer bear the thought of a late lead evaporating into thin air.
Bell finished with 19 saves in 27 chances and a 5.09 ERA in 73 games. But what made him even more of a liability to the Marlins was his outspokenness. The last straw came in September, when Bell told a local radio station, "It's hard to respect a guy that doesn't tell you the truth," referring to Guillen.
Seeming to blame the team and bad luck for his struggles through the season, it wasn't until Bell criticized his manager that his pariah status was cemented. Guillen went on local radio to respond the next day, saying "I don't respect [Bell] as a person."
With the entire team siding with Guillen, the team locked media out of the clubhouse during Guillen's interview and turned up the volume on the clubhouse radio so Bell would have no choice but to listen.
So it's easy to see why the Marlins would want him gone, so willing that they will pay Bell $8 million to not pitch for them.
What made Bell's comments all the more surprising was the fact that Guillen had defended him early in the season, even as fans called for his demotion.
"This should be a positive change for Heath and the Marlins," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told the Miami Herald on Saturday. "After a disappointing 2012 season, Heath gets a fresh start and this move gives us clarity as we begin our offseason roster improvement."
The Marlins acquired minor league infielder Yordy Cabrera from Oakland as part of the deal. Cabrera is a long shot to even play in the majors (he currently plays A-ball). His arrival is not the main benefit from the trade, taking $13 million off the payroll over the next two seasons is.