Eric Hinske: ownership's secret weapon

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FanGraph’s R.J. Anderson wonders if Eric Hinske won’t work his magic once again and persuade Jason Heyward to sign an uber-team-friendly contract with the Braves.  It was Hinske, you’ll recall who did that with Evan Longoria, famously telling the young stud not to pass up his first shot at money and leading him to sign a six-year, $17.5M extension with the Rays that already makes him the cheapest superstar in the game and will only get more ridiculously team-friendly as time goes on.

As a selfish Braves fan I’d love to see Heyward sign, say, a 15-year, $15 million deal. As a generally pro-player fellow who likes to see guys get paid what they’re worth, I hope that Heyward stays the heck away from Hinske.

Not that there aren’t other reasons to stay away from him . . .

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.