While initial reactions to the Miami Marlins' deal with Heath Bell have ranged from excited to sour, this move clearly signifies one thing: the Marlins don't intend to keep Juan Oviedo (AKA, Leo Nunez) as their closer next season. Oviedo had a middling year as the Marlins' closer in 2011, saving 36 games but posting a 4.06 ERA in the process, and he was facing ongoing legal and visa issues due to the revelation that he was playing under an assumed name.
Due to all these factors, according to Jim Bowden from ESPN Radio, the Marlins intend to non-tender Juan Oviedo. He is eligible for arbitration this offseason and would likely make around $6 million if offered a contract, so it appears the Marlins aren't going to take that risk. They have their new closer, so they can cut and run on Oviedo, saving themselves some money in the process.
While the length of Heath Bell's contract is extreme, it should be a good deal in 2012. The Marlins will only be paying Bell a few million more than what Oviedo would be making, yet Bell is a considerably better pitcher than him and doesn't come with extra baggage. The Marlins may end up regretting this contract by 2014, but for right now, it's a solid improvement to their team.
The deal, which is worth an average of $9M per year and has an option for a fourth year, should give the Marlins one of the most dominant closers in the game. In the 2011 season, Bell pitched 62 and 2/3 innings with the San Diego Padres, earning 43 saves, 31 shutdowns, and just 8 meltdowns.
Last year, the Marlins employed Leo Nunez, now (or always, in a way) Juan Oviedo, as their closer. In his 64+ innings as the 9th inning man, he managed 36 saves with a below average 4.06 ERA and 3.96 FIP.
Interestingly, Nunez had the same number of meltdowns as Bell while also managing two more shutdowns.