Drafted on June 2, 1987 by the Blue Jays in the 2nd round of the 1987 amateur draft, Bell spent several years in the minors before making his MLB debut in '91. During his time with the Jays he was voted the 1991 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year and the 1991 International League Most Valuable Player. He was also a World Series champion in 1992.
On March 30, 1993 he was traded by the Blue Jays with Stoney Briggs (minors) to the San Diego Padres for Darrin Jackson.
Nearly two years later he was traded by the Padres with Doug Brocail, Ricky Gutierrez, Pedro Martinez, Phil Plantier and Craig Shipley to Houston for a player to be named later, Ken Caminiti, Andujar Cedeno, Steve Finley, Roberto Petagine and Brian Williams. The Houston Astros sent Sean Fesh (minors) to the San Diego Padres to complete the trade.
Bell would be known as one of the Killer B's during his time with Houston. However, after an argument with Dierker (who had just returned to the team after nearly dying) and the opinion that he was becoming a liability, he was traded to the Mets on December 23, 1999 with Mike Hampton for Kyle Kessel (minors), Roger Cedeno and Octavio Dotel.
Just short of a year later he signed as a Free Agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Apparently the past few years have not been good to Derek. In 2006 he was found to be in felony possession of crack cocaine. In 2009 it appears he was found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia on at least two different occasions.