Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona
By JACK MAGRUDER  |  Last updated 12/3/13
PHOENIX -- The Diamondbacks did not wait until the winter meetings to start their repackaging, sending reliever Heath Bell to Tampa Bay and left-hander David Holmberg to Cincinnati in a three-team deal Tuesday.The D-backs added minor league right-hander Justin Choate and a player to be named from the Rays, but the major get was a heftier wallet, better to serve their long-term mission of adding a starting pitcher andor a power bat in the corner outfield or at third base as they prepare for the meetings that begin Monday in Orlando, Fla.Tampa Bay will pick up 5.5 million of the 6 million the D-backs were to pay Bell in 2014, meaning the two Florida teams are paying the bulk of Bell's 9 million salary. Per terms of the trade that brought Bell to the D-backs last winter, Miami will pay 3 million, leaving the D-backs out only 500,000.The D-backs, who could kick their payroll above the 100 million range, have about 71.5 million committed to 11 players who are under contract for 2014."I have an opportunity to pitch in the ninth inning, which is a good thing," Bell said of the trade, "but I definitely have to go out and earn it. I can't just show up in spring training, but I have a good chance to win a job."Fernando Rodney has 85 saves as the Rays' closer the last two seasons, but he is a free agent and by absorbing Bell's contract, it appears that Tampa will not go after Rodney this winter. The Rays also received catcher Ryan Hanigan from Cincinnati in Tuesday's deal.Despite his previous success in San Diego, Bell would have entered spring training with little chance to open as the closer. J.J. Putz appears to be the top candidate for that role entering 2014 after going 3-1 with six saves and a 2.36 season in an injury-affected 2013, but David Hernandez and Brad Ziegler could be in the mix. Ziegler was 8-1 with 13 saves and a 2.22 ERA and filled the job the second hLD of 2013. Newcomer Matt Stites, who was obtained from San Diego for Ian Kennedy at the trade deadline last year, also could be a candidate after a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League."Tampa is an unbelievable team. People seem to overlook them, but they are always in there at the end," Bell said from his home in southern California. "I've heard good things about (manager) Joe Maddon. People say he is like Buddy (Black, San Diego manager), and I think very highly of Buddy."Bell had good moments and bad in his one season with the D-backs, when he was 5-2 with 15 saves and a 4.11 ERA. He inherited the closer's job when Putz went out with an elbow injury in early May, but he hit rough patches in mid-June and early July and eventually was replaced by Ziegler. Bell gave up a career-high 12 home runs in 65 2-3 innings. In Miami in 2012, he was 4-5 with 19 saves and a 5.09 ERA. "I was just trying to get back to who I was, and I think I got back there by midseason," said Bell, who had three 40-save seasons in San Diego from 2009-11. "I got totally messed up two years ago, and (pitching coach Charles) Nagy and Sherls (bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock) got me back to where I wanted to be."Bell leaves with positive feelings."Arizona was one of the best teammate teams I have ever been on," he said. "I feel like we were a family."Choate, a 6-foot right-hander, was signed as a free agent by Tampa Bay last summer after pitching at Stephen F. Austin State. He was 1-3 with six saves and a 2.88 ERA in 16 games at Class A Hudson Valley.Holmberg, 22, made one start with the D-backs last season, giving up three runs in 3 innings of a no-decision against San Diego on Aug. 27. He was 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA at Class AA Mobile last season. He is considered a potential No. 4 or No. 5 starter in a major league rotation with good command and control but not an overpowering fastball.To complete the trade, the D-backs will select a player from a list agreed upon with Tampa Bay, although the deal might not be consummated for a week or two, sources said. The player the D-backs select might depend on what they do in the interim.Follow Jack Magruder on Twitter
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