The rumors surrounding the Miami Marlins have cooled down over the past couple weeks, but that doesn't mean that the Marlins are any less serious about acquiring star talent than they were a few weeks ago. They have still been linked to Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, Mark Buehrle, and C.J. Wilson, and nearly every free agent that has met with the team has come away impressed. They're rolling out the red carpet for free agents, and from the looks of it, they intend to make a splash.
It looks like it's time to add another name to that list. Late last night, Jon Heyman tweeted that the Marlins had met with closer Heath Bell, and that report was confirmed this morning by Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post:
Heath Bell is one of the top relief pitchers still available on the market, and he'd provide the Marlins with a "proven closer" to replace Leo Nunez (who may or may not be able to return to the US due to immigration issues). Bell saved 43 games last season while posting a 2.44 ERA, although his peripheral statistics where slightly down from previous years. His strikeout rate dropped from 30% to around 20%, and his 3.23 FIP was his highest since 2008.
Bell will be 34 years old next season and he's had injury issues in the past, so there are concerns about how well he will age. He seems to want more than the two-year deal the Padres have offered him, so it may not be wise for the Marlins to invest some of their limited financial flexibility into an old closer. After all, they did have one of the strongest bullpens in the majors last season (3.44 ERA, 7th best in majors), so that area isn't necessarily a weak spot on the team.
For more on the Marlins, check out SB Nation's blog on the Marlins, Fish Stripes.