Mariners add Byrnes to outfield picture

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Outfielder Eric Byrnes is on his way to Seattle after signing a one-year deal Friday.
Terms weren’t announced, but it’s certainly for the minimum, given that the Diamondbacks were on the hook for $11 million under the terms of the three-year, $30 million extension he signed in Aug. 2007.
Since he came at such a bargain, Byrnes should have had his pick of teams, even though he’s been a bust in back-to-back seasons. He hit .209/.272/.369 in 206 at-bats in 2008 and .226/.270/.293 in 239 at-bats last year. It was a big 2007 in which he hit .286/.353/.460 and stole 50 bases that landed him his bloated contract.
The addition of Byrnes to Seattle’s outfield suggests that the team might not keep 23-year-old Michael Saunders out of spring training. The Mariners could have let Saunders, Milton Bradley and Ken Griffey Jr. battle it out for playing time between left field and DH (Saunders, of course, always would have played left field when he was in the lineup). Now the Mariners have the option of using Byrnes and Griffey in a platoon, with Bradley playing left field against righties and DH versus lefties. That wouldn’t have worked with Saunders, since both he and Griffey are left-handed hitters.

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.