2 Padres Ink New Contracts

Bell, Ludwick avoid arbitration

By Michael Gehlken
|  Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011  |  Updated 4:47 PM PDT
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San Diego Padres 2010

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Padres closer Heath Bell agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million deal Tuesday to avoid arbitration.

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The San Diego Padres inked one-year deals with closer Heath Bell and outfielder Ryan Ludwick on Tuesday, respectively agreeing to $7.5 million and $6.775 million contracts to avoid arbitration.

This is the final arbitration-eligible season for Bell, who was named the Rolaid Relief Man Award last season as baseball’s top relief pitcher.

Bell, an Oceanside native, has said he would like a long-term deal to remain in San Diego, but given the team’s limited payroll, the scenario would likely require Bell to accept a discount off his market value.

If the Padres choose not to sign the 33-year-old to a long-term contract, they could choose to trade him in the summer or receive compensatory draft picks when he departs to free agency after the season.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound right-hander finished second in the league with a career-high 47 saves in 2010 and had a 6-1 record, 1.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 70 innings. His 89 saves over the past two seasons are the most in that span.

Ludwick's role as aheart-of-the-order power bat willbe critical in the Padres' first season without All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was traded to the Boston Red Sox in December.

The 32-year-old Ludwick was acquired midseason last year from the St. Louis Cardinals. The 2008 All-Star hit .211 with six home runs with 26 RBI in 59 games for the Padres.

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