Needing 40-man roster spot, Royals cut loose Brian Bannister

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Jason Kendall and David DeJesus returning from the 60-day disabled list meant the Royals needed to clear a couple spots on the 40-man roster and they did so by cutting loose Brian Bannister and Brian Anderson.

Bannister is one of my favorite players because he’s a good quote, very smart, and a fan of sabermetrics, often talking about how he studies stats in an effort to improve his pitching. It didn’t help him much this season, as he went 7-12 with a 6.32 ERA in 24 starts after coming into the year with a 4.79 ERA in 540 career innings.

He’s a decent bounceback bet, but Bannister’s upside is back-of-the-rotation starter and at age 30 he may have to settle for a minor-league contract with an opportunity to compete for a job this spring.

Anderson is a former first-round pick who converted to pitching this season after struggling to hit enough to play the outfield. He had some early success in the minors, tossing 17 innings with a 2.08 ERA and 17/5 K/BB ratio, but there was no need to protect him with a 40-man roster spot.

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.