The Tampa Bay Rays and pitcher Heath Bell have parted ways, following his designation for assignment exactly a week ago. The Rays will still owe Bell $5.5 million of his $9 million contract this season. That number was decided upon when the Rays acquired the right-hander from the Diamondbacks this offseason.
Bell did not draw much trade interest. Since going to the All Star game and posting a 146 ERA+ with the Padres in 2011, Bell's ERA+ has dropped noticeably. He has posted an 80 ERA+ in 2012, a 93 ERA+ in '13, and a horrific 54 ERA+ so far in '14. He's gone 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA and a 1.846 WHIP in 13 games with the Rays this season (17.1 IP). He's allowed 24 hits, 16 runs (14 earned runs), while posting a 12/9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
It will be interesting to see where Bell latches on to following his release. It's hard for me to picture him as a free agent throughout the season. He could sign with a team in need of bullpen help on a minor-league deal, in order to provide depth. However, it does not seem like Bell can regain his top notch form, as his velocity has dropped significantly since he was the anchor at the back of the Padres bullpen.