Red Sox to sign 'Theriot with better hands' for $8 million?

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While the baseball world awaits word on elite Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman’s next move, another prominent player who defected from the island last year has apparently signed.

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports
that 19-year-old shortstop Jose Iglesias has agreed to an $8 million
deal with the Red Sox and “official word is expected later this month.”
Here’s a scouting report on Iglesias from Kiley McDaniel of Baseball Prospectus:

Drawing attention for his flashy glovework at shortstop, with one
scout grading his fielding as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His
arm is enough to stick at shortstop, but his range is somewhat limited
by his fringe-average speed. Iglesias makes the most of his ability,
with instincts that enhance his tools and excellent makeup. He bats
from the right side and while his overall offensive package leaves a
bit to be desired, most scouts agree Iglesias will hit enough to allow
him to profile as a big league regular.

He has decent pop in his 5-10 frame, at a maxed-out 180 lbs., though
he can get pull-happy at times. An international scouting director
called Iglesias’ total package, “Ryan Theriot with better hands.”
Iglesias is a defensive-oriented overachiever and executives say he
would be more of a 2nd-3rd rounder if eligible for the recent draft.

“Ryan Theriot with better hands” and “a second or third rounder” is
hardly what you’d expect to hear about a teenager who reportedly just
signed for $8 million, and for a similarly low-upside comparison John
Manuel of Baseball America quotes a scout calling him an “Orlando Cabrera clone.”

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.