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