Yankees, Red Sox both interested in Scott Downs

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AOL’s Ed Price says that the Yankees and the Red Sox have “a big time interest” in Blue Jays’ reliever Scott Downs.

And he’s definitely interesting. He has a 2.56 ERA in 38.2 innings, and has a K/BB ratio of 30/8.  Both the Yankees and the Red Sox could use some bullpen help, but it’s an open question as to whether the Jays would trade within the division.

Well, maybe. I think that “trade within the division” thing is used more often as a means of extracting a higher price than it is used to indicate a total unwillingness to deal. Besides, Downs is a free agent after this season, so barring some playoff race heroics, he’s not likely to stick around the AL East even if he is traded.

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.