Giants Claim Heath Bell On Waivers From Padres

PHOENIX, AZ - : National League All-Star Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres sprints to the mound in the eighth inning of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The San Francisco Giants claimed Heath Bell on waivers from the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

Ah, the politics of baseball waivers. The Giants lost to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night, with closer Heath Bell picking up the save. Just a few hours later, Buster Olney tweets thusly:

As expected, Giants are the team that was awarded the claim on Bell. Whether the Giants/SD can make a deal could depend on Wilson concern

The Giants might have made the claim just so the Diamondbacks didn't get a chance to acquire Bell. Maybe the Giants are extra devious these days, and they don't want the Padres to get any good prospects from a desperate team. Or, that desperate team just might be the Giants.

Brian Wilson had a back injury last week, and that somehow morphed into a private jet taking him to Dr. James Andrews for a look under the hood. Setup man Sergio Romo is on the disabled list as well, with elbow tenderness, leaving the Giants' bullpen extra thin. Last night the Giants scored five runs -- usually a week's worth -- but lost when middle reliever Ramon Ramirez couldn't hold a tie in the ninth inning. It certainly would have been a spot for Wilson or Romo if either had been available, and perhaps that has created a little urgency in the Giants' mind to deal for another reliever.

The Padres are in a tricky spot as well. They want to get draft-pick compensation for Bell when he leaves as a free agent, but Bell has indicated he might accept arbitration, which could cost the Padres $12 million or so. The team almost certainly wouldn't want to pay that for a closer because the Padres can make more closers out of mud and sticks. And even the promise of draft-pick compensation is dicey because it could be eliminated when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires this December.

So the Padres might want the draft picks, which might not exist, and the idea of draft picks might be moot because Bell could accept arbitration. Got that? And, of course, Brian Sabean could force the Padres' hand by throwing a huge chunk of the Giants' farm at the Padres for a month-and-a-half of sweet, sweet relief pitching.

If the Giants know something about Wilson and Romo that they're reluctant to divulge, they might just do that, and hope that the draft-pick compensation is around for them to take advantage of. Or they might do it because the farm is filled with guys who haven't even played in the major leagues yet. Look it up. Those guys are totally expendable, and a good reliever could add 12 or 13 wins over the next 45 games. Look it up.

It's likely that the two teams won't make a trade, and that the Padres will pull Bell back from waivers to finish the season with them. But it's an interesting match of a team with an easily recognizable need and a team that might have interest in moving a player who could fill that need.

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