Nathan to miss 2010 season? Twins scouting Padres’ Bell

According to Bob Nightengale via his Twitter page, the Twins have been “extensively” scouting Padres closer Heath Bell for a possible trade. If the report is true, then that probably means that Joe Nathan is likely preparing to have Tommy John surgery on his elbow and will miss the entire 2010 season.

Bell was the National League’s surprise leader in saves in 2009 after he racked up 42 stops, a 2.71 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Despite the Padres only winning 75 games last year, Bell was given plenty of opportunities to save tight games in the ninth, which he did with regularity.

It’s no secret that the Padres want to continue to shed payroll and Bell’s name has been mentioned in trades all winter. With the Twins desperate to fill Nathan’s ninth inning spot, San Diego might be able to get a decent prospect in a trade – especially if they wait until after the season starts. Minnesota has a team ready to compete now, but if bullpen woes start to emerge then the Twins might have to overpay a little to acquire Bell’s services. After all, a bullpen can be the difference between a team that makes the postseason and one that comes up short at the end of the season.

From a fantasy standpoint, a potential trade could be viewed as both a positive and a negative. On one hand, he would be going to a competitive club that should give him plenty of save opportunities and if Nathan were indeed done for the year, Bell would instantly become the closer. On the other hand, he’d be leaving spacious Petco Park and would probably see a spike in his ERA while pitching in the American League. Plus, the lowly Padres were already giving him save opportunities so owners might be wishing he stays put.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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