Red Sox show interest in Heath Bell

MILWAUKEE -- The Boston Red Sox have made preliminary contact with the agent for Heath Bell, one of the top relievers on the free-agent market.

Agent Sam Levinson confirmed the Red Sox, who lost closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies last week, had talked to him about his client. Bell had 43 saves and a 2.44 ERA for the San Diego Padres last season. The 34-year-old has three straight seasons with 40-plus saves and a 2.36 combined ERA from 2009 to 2011.

Bell is at least the second prominent free-agent reliever the Red Sox have made contact with so far this offseason.

On Tuesday, agent Bean Stringfellow confirmed the Red Sox made inquiries about his client Francisco Cordero. The 36-year-old Cordero saved 37 games and had a 2.45 ERA for the Reds last season. He has more than 30 saves in each of his last five seasons.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.