Heath Bell trade: Does the team not believe in David Hernandez as closer?

Christian Petersen

The D-backs now have a nasty back end of the bullpen.

The Arizona Diamondbacks surprised mostly everyone when they exercised option of closer J.J Putz on Saturday and then turned around and traded outfielder Chris Young for a couple of players, one of whom was then flipped to the Miami Marlins for reliever Heath Bell.

While Bell did not pitch well in 2012, the D-backs know all too well how good he is, having faced him for many years when he was a member of the San Diego Padres.

But the big question is -- why?

Well, general manager loves bullpen arms. The Arizona bullpen now counts on Putz to close, with Bell and David Hernandez to get to Putz. Then there is Brad Ziegler, who had a superb season in 2012 and a collection of others.

While the money it cost to bring him (Arizona is reportedly going to pay $13 million of the remaining $21 million on Bell's deal), this trade is good for now and for later.

Putz will not be back after 2013. Acquiring Bell solidifies the bullpen now, and it gives the team another potential closer for 2014.

It has long been supposed that when Putz left the team, it would be David Hernandez that would assume the closer's role. That might still happen, but now there will be competition for the job. And, as sports goes, there is one adage that is considered Gospel -- competition makes players better.

There is also another possibility. Maybe the team is not completely sure whether or not Hernandez is going to make a good full-time closer. After all, the team could have let Putz go, saving $6.5 million, and handed Herny the job. He did close in 2011 when Putz was out with injury, and he did very well.

However, the team chose not to. Then they went and traded for another closer.

There is nothing that says more about how confident a team is in a player than the moves they make.

If the team really believed that Hernandez was up for the job, you would think that the job would be his now. But it isn't and Bell will still be on the roster in 2014. The team has $19.5 million over two years locked up in guys that close games.

What does that say about Hernandez?

Now, I do not deny that this move makes the team better. On paper, Bell, Herny and Putz is a devastating combination from the seventh inning and on. It certainly appears more dominating than Brad Ziegler/Matt Lindstrom, Herny and Putz.

I like the trade -- I think. Bell had a down year. He probably will bounce back. But he pitched for many years at a very pitcher-friendly park in Petco Park in San Diego. Then he leaves and struggles. Now he is coming to a very hitter-friendly park in Chase Field. It may backfire.

I am not criticizing the move, but I do think that the move raises eyebrows in this one sense -- why didn't they let Hernandez take over as closer when they could have done it and saved a ton of money. That money could be used for a third baseman or other relievers.

Instead, it looks like it may be 2015 at the earliest that David Hernandez is the team's closer. And if we are looking at that far away, it makes me think that it will never happen.

It's a good trade. It's just interesting.

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