|Sunday, November 24
Updated: December 2, 9:38 PM ET
Bell leaves Giants for $17 million deal with Phils
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies don't have to worry about their new third baseman's relationship with manager Larry Bowa.
David Bell, who helped the San Francisco Giants reach the World Series last month, agreed to a $17-million, four-year deal with the Phillies on Sunday.
Bell hit .261 with 20 homers and 73 RBI last season. The free agent will replace All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen, traded by Philadelphia to St. Louis in July.
Rolen and Bowa had opposite personalities and feuded often during their 1½ seasons together. Bell and Bowa got along well when they were together in Seattle from 1999-01.
''I know Larry, and I really like Larry,'' Bell said. ''I look forward to playing for him.''
Bowa, a coach with Seattle when Bell was there, likes his approach and attitude.
''His work ethic is second to none,'' Bowa said. ''He's always prepared, plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He's very unselfish, knows how to play and has come from winning teams.''
Bell will get $3 million in 2003, $4.2 million in 2004, and $4.5 million in 2005 and 2006, plus a signing bonus of $800,000.
The 30-year-old Bell also played with Cleveland and St. Louis in an eight-year major league career. He has a career average of .256 with 81 homers and 351 RBI.
Bell chose the Phillies over the Giants, where he played one year after 3½ seasons in Seattle. He said San Francisco and Philadelphia made similar offers, and his decision didn't come down to money. He also said the departure of former Giants manager Dusty Baker wasn't a factor in his decision.
''It was a tough decision but I feel I made the right decision. I couldn't be happier,'' Bell said. ''They have the basis for a great team. It's a young team, but they have all the pieces in place. I'm looking forward to coming in and doing anything I can to help them win.''
The Giants now shift their attention to filling several holes.
All-Star second baseman Jeff Kent is not expected to be back, along with several other key members of the team that lost to Anaheim in seven games in the World Series. Right fielder Reggie Sanders' $3.5 million option was declined by the Giants, who have only two outfielders under contract -- one being slugger Barry Bonds. It's also uncertain whether center fielder Kenny Lofton, the team's leadoff hitter, will return.
''While we worked with due diligence to resign David Bell, by offering him a four-year contract, unfortunately we weren't able to come to terms with him,'' Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. ''Obviously, the 2003 club is still a work in progress and will be until we address our needs.''
Bell went to San Francisco in a trade that sent utility infielder Desi Relaford to the Mariners. He had his best season with Seattle in 1999, hitting .268 with 21 homers and 78 RBI.
''He could care less about his numbers,'' Bowa said. ''He cares about winning. When you have guys on the same page, that care only about winning, that's how you become a winning team.''
The Phillies have been the most aggressive team so far in the offseason, targeting Bell, Cleveland Indians slugger Jim Thome and Atlanta Braves left-hander Tom Glavine.
Philadelphia offered Thome a five-year deal worth $75 million, and the three-time All-Star first baseman is expected to decide soon where he wants to play. Cleveland's offer is believed to be for four years and $40-to-$48 million.
Glavine, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, got a three-year offer worth close to $30 million from the Phillies. He's also considering the New York Mets or returning to Atlanta, where he's played his entire 16-year major league career.
Phillies general manager Ed Wade hopes signing Bell makes his team even more attractive to Thome and Glavine.
''We're a better ballclub,'' Wade said. ''I know economics are important, but players also want to play for teams capable of winning.''
Bell's acquisition likely means the Phillies will move Placido Polanco, acquired in the Rolen trade, to second base. Marlon Anderson, the starting second baseman the last three seasons, becomes expendable.
''We have two quality second basemen,'' Wade said. ''We have to figure out which direction to go.''