Report: Mets like Willingham for left field

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Josh Willingham headshot alt.jpgThe Mets are expected to bid on free
agent big fish like Matt Holliday and Jason Bay to play left field, but
according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, they have joined the Giants,
Mariners and Braves
among teams interested in Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham.



Willingham, 30, batted
.260/.367/.496 with 24 home runs, 61 RBI and a career-high .863 OPS in
2009.
While he possesses the thump the Mets covet, he ranks well below average on defense, according to UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating). The Nats resisted parting with him before the trade deadline, but
under team control for two more seasons, he represents one of
the team’s best potential trade chips.




The Nationals would almost certainly
want pitching in return, meaning that major-league ready pitchers like
Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell would have to be discussed. Perhaps the best part of it all for
general manager Omar Minaya, Willingham is a former catcher. Zing.

In other Mets news, the team is reportedly interested in Rod Barajas, while Jon Heyman of SI.com thinks Bengie Molina may want a three-year contract.

Update: Jon Heyman of SI.com now believes the Mets may be waiting out Molina, as they have more money to work with than the Rangers and Royals.

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.