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Surprise! Mike Adams — not Heath Bell — traded to Rangers

The San Diego Padres promised reliever Mike Adams(notes) that he wouldn't be traded. What happened Sunday afternoon at the major league trade deadline turned out to be something completely different.

Adams, instead of closer Heath Bell(notes) as most rumors had identified, went to the Texas Rangers in a deadline day stunner. The Padres received a pair of highly regarded minor league starting pitchers — Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland — in exchange.

Adams, despite being Bell's setup man in San Diego, has been the better pitcher; actually one of the top relievers in the majors since 2008. He's a year younger than Bell, he makes less money and he remains under team control in 2012 when Bell probably becomes a free agent.

Though it made sense for the Rangers to hold out for Adams, he seemed an unlikely target after Padres owner Jeff Moorad told him he was "not going anywhere." Adams later denied the conversation happened, but it was obvious the Padres were backtracking and regretted announcing that Adams was staying put.

Bell indicated on Twitter early Sunday that he was expecting to join the playoff race soon. In the end, the Padres and Rangers couldn't agree on compensation for Bell, but they could for Adams, who holds right-handed batters to a .107 average. He joins Koji Uehara(notes)   — whom the Rangers got from Baltimore — in a powerhouse Texas bullpen.

No matter, Adams was blindsided when the Padres told him he was headed to Texas:

"I came in this morning prepared to be the closer. I honestly thought Heath [Bell] would be moved. This is a shock," Adams said. "There's a lot of good people in this clubhouse that I'm going to miss."

This offseason, if the Padres offer Bell arbitration, he declines and becomes a free agent, he would be worth two draft picks in compensation. Or, they could sign Bell to a three-year deal with a "hometown discount," as he requests.

If Bell goes, all told, they'd be getting back a lot for two relief pitchers. Maybe that's how they envisioned it all along. Maybe, when it came down to pulling the trigger on a deal, the Padres simply had to do one thing after saying another.

Regardless, here's a deadline day lesson: Whether you're a fan, a sportswriter or a ballplayer, there is no such thing as a promise.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave — and engage the Stew on Facebook
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Keep up with all of the deadline dealing with Jeff Passan's Trade Tracker!

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