Marlins “close to signing” John Buck to three-year contract

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Marlins are “close to signing” John Buck to a three-year contract believed to be worth more than $15 million, which is pretty remarkable for a catcher who was available to the Blue Jays for a one-year, $2 million deal last offseason.

Buck obviously boosted his value significantly with a career-year, hitting .281 with 20 homers and an .802 OPS in 118 games, but there’s little reason to think he’s capable of duplicating those numbers again consistently.

He’s always had 20-homer power, but prior to this season Buck was a career .235 hitter with a lowly .298 on-base percentage and .407 slugging percentage in 2,116 plate appearances. And while posting career-best numbers at age 29 he also had the worst strikeout-to-walk ratio in all of baseball at 111-to-16.

Buck is a solid enough catcher, but by giving him a three-year contract the Marlins are clearly paying for a repeat of 2010 and the odds are stacked against that happening.

UPDATE: Rosenthal reports that Buck will get $18 million for three years.

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.