Yankees intrigued by Chapman's potential

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Aroldis Chapman might be the most interesting player on the free agent market, and not just because of his agent fiasco, his potential tax issues and the questionable company he keeps.

No, Chapman is a largely unknown flame-thrower from Cuba with tantalizing talents of Nuke LaLouche proportions. He has been attracting plenty of interest around baseball, but it remains a mystery as to who will get him.

The Yankees seem particularly interested, at least when you look at these quotes from senior vice-president of baseball operations Mark Newman in an interview with LoHud.com:

“Who knows what the price tag is going to be on this deal,” Newman said. “He’s not where (Stephen) Strasburg was.” When Chapman threw a bullpen for scouts earlier this month, Newman said the reports were exactly what he expected: Huge fastball. Spotty command. Inconsistent secondary pitches. “But if you don’t like that, you need to be in another business,” Newman said.

Newman also said that if the Yankees sign him, Chapman would likely start in A or Double-A as he works on improving his control and off-speed stuff. “And when he gets that, he’s going to take off.”

Some candid quotes about an intriguing player. It will be interesting to see where Chapman winds up.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

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.