The looming battle over draft pick slotting

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Buster Olney relays the gist of conversations held during the recent General Managers meeting about fixing the draft.  Money quote:

And there is a strong belief on the side of management that a slotting
system can be completed, because the union will embrace the idea — so
long as the Players Association is guaranteed, in some fashion, that
more money will be spent on major league players. How this happens
remains to be seen, but there are agents convinced that the interests
of the draft-eligible traded will be swapped out for the interests of
the union veterans.

I was always inclined to believe that too, simply because there were so many veterans on record taking issue with the size of draft bonuses and that it makes sense that they would be willing to negotiate away the rights of amateurs if they got something for themselves.  But that changed when Michael Weiner referred to the idea of hard slotting as “a salary cap” in his introductory press conference last month.  The term “salary cap” is a rallying cry for the union. Always has been. The owners know this, and they have publicly abandoned any effort to impose one because they know the union will gladly strike over it and will likely win. Again.

I don’t think enough people have taken notice of Weiner’s use of that term — Olney doesn’t make any mention of it — and for that reason, I think they are underselling just how hard the union is preparing to fight the imposition of hard slotting for the draft.

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.