Blue Jays fight off Rangers for … Jose Molina

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Earlier this week multiple reports had the Rangers interested in Jose Molina, with Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram calling him the team’s “No. 1 target” at catcher, but this afternoon the 35-year-old signed with the Blue Jays.
Molina gets $400,000 guaranteed and another $400,000 if he makes the Opening Day roster, and the Blue Jays will have a $1.2 million team option on him for 2011. After backing up Jorge Posada in New York for the past two-plus seasons Molina will be John Buck’s understudy in Toronto, likely getting just 1-2 starts per week barring an injury.
In other words, it seems unlikely that he chose Toronto over Texas because of playing time, so either the Rangers offered their supposed “No. 1 target” less than $800,000 or he just really likes Canada. His brother Bengie Molina spent 2006 in Toronto, so perhaps he passed along some good words about Tim Hortons and maybe even the city or team.

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.