New general manager Josh Byrnes said the move was predictable. If the players decline, the Padres will receive compensatory draft picks.
Byrnes said it's unlikely the players will accept arbitration, but the team will prepare for either scenario.
Bell is among six players who are exceptions to baseball's free agent compensation rules this winter.
By offering Bell arbitration, the Padres would receive a high draft pick and a compensation-round pick in next summer's draft if Bell signs elsewhere. They would pick just ahead of the team signing Bell, while the team that signed him would not lose a draft pick.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.