Holliday wants to play for the New York Yankees

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SI’s Jon Heyman hears from one of Matt Holliday’s friends that Holliday has the Yankees at the top of his list.

Which is interesting.  On the one hand, Holliday thrived in (a) the N.L.; and (b) in small markets, and there is this sense out there, justified or not, that he’s not the sort of player you could just plug into New York and expect him to shine.  On the other hand, the Yankees (a) will have an opening in left field if they let Damon walk and Holliday would fit it well; and (b) they almost always always always go after the top free agent in a given year.  As Heyman himself notes, the last time they didn’t do that was when Carlos Beltran was dangling in the winter of 2004-05.

Heyman handicaps the Holliday field as well, and I more or less agree with his comments on all of the contenders.  Not sure if it’s a ranking or just a listing, but if it’s a ranking he has the Dodgers way too high at number 2, because I really can’t see Manny not exercising his option.  The Braves at number 8 are an intriguing option, simply because they fit what seems like the Holliday mold (N.L., less-intense market) and because they have a glaring need and the ability to spend a little money, assuming they don’t sign Hudson or if they manage to somehow trade off Derek Lowe.

While all of that is interesting, I’m trying to figure out how that sourcing for this story works from a practical angle.  Does Heyman stalk Holliday, figure out who his friends are and then secretly get quotes from them without Holliday’s knowledge, or does Holliday and/or his agent orchestrate this, putting a “friend” with Heyman so it doesn’t look like Holliday is out lobbying the Yankees directly?  Probably doesn’t matter, but I’m going to assume that this is Holliday and his people planting this in an effort to dispel the notion that Holliday is an N.L. only, small market-only kind of guy, and to make the Yankees a credible bargaining tool as he enters the market.

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.