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Nationals sign veteran reliever Heath Bell to a minor league deal

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Veteran right-hander Heath Bell announced in an essay this morning that he will attempt to extend his major league career. Bell signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals today with an invitation to Spring Training.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After the Ross Detwiler deal with the Texas Rangers and before the trade that sent Steven Souza and minor league pitcher Travis Ott to the Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters there was still work to be done as the Nats prepared to defend their NL East crown.

"We have a lot of options," Rizzo said.

"We can go a lot of different ways. We can stand pat and go with a team that we think is a very competitive ballclub. We can make a few tweaks here and there and I think that we're certainly going to address our depth both with pitching and with our position players."

The Nationals added to their pitching depth this morning, agreeing on a minor league deal with veteran right-hander Heath Bell.

Bell announced the deal himself in an "essay" for the "The Players' Tribune":

"This morning... I took another flight, this time from LA to DC, and I couldn’t help but think of that young guy flying from Alaska to Tennessee with a suitcase full of North Face gear and a stubborn dream. Today I’m in DC because I’m still chasing that dream. At around noon today, I signed with the Nationals.

"I’m a different person today in a lot of ways — for one, I’m a married father of four and I’m 17 years older — but I’m as hungry now as ever. I’m excited to join the Nationals for the same reason I was excited to get to Tennessee back then. I flat out love to pitch."

Read the entire "essay" here:

Bell, 37, pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays in the majors in 2014, posting a 7.27 ERA, a 4.57 FIP, eight walks (4.15 BB/9) and 12 Ks (6.23 K/9) in 17 ⅓ before he was released on May 10th.

Bell then pitched for the Triple-A affiliates of the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.

The right-hander will join a crowded field in Spring Training with the Nationals, battling for what might be one spot in the bullpen.