Is Jose Reyes on the trading block?

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That’s the rumor from Matt Pignataro at 7 Train to Shea.  I don’t know Matt and I don’t know his source, but he’s saying that the Mets “have put word out to teams” that Reyes is available and that they’ll look to trade him during the Winter Meetings.

Plausible, as Reyes has real value. If I was going to rebuild the Mets that’s who I’d consider trading precisely because he could bring value on a thin market for middle infielders. Not that rebuilding is Sandy Alderson’s only option. It’s entirely possible that he could try to rearrange things and make one last run at a winner with a Wright-Reyes-Beltran-Santana core over the next couple of years.  But that would likely cost some money, and depending on how constrained the Wilpons are financially, it may not be possible.

Reyes is due $11 million in 2011, and will be a free agent after that. He hit .282/.321/.428 in 133 games last season, which is well off expectations.  His walks were way down. Still, he’s one of the better shortstops in the game.  And remember: his offseason and spring workout/prep schedule was basically destroyed by that thyroid condition, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that a lot of his struggles were a function of starting off all late and awkward like that.

If I was a contender and in need of a shortstop, I wouldn’t hesitate to kick the tires or express interest or whatever it is GMs do this time of year.

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.