A’s have indeed made “big offer” to Adrian Beltre

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ESPN.com’s Jayon Stark passed along an odd rumor earlier today, stating that the A’s and Adrian Beltre were close to agreement on a contract and that the deal might be finalized by this evening.

It’s now past 9:30 PM in the east and nothing has been signed.

Beltre is a Scott Boras client and Boras often insists that his top tier free agents wait until the later part of the winter to ink contracts.  That way he can get more teams involved and play off the desperation of clubs that miss out on their primary offseason targets.

That doesn’t mean that the A’s won’t sign Beltre.  In fact, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle heard Thursday that Billy Beane and Co. have indeed made a “big offer” to the free agent third baseman.

But it probably won’t happen for several more weeks.

Beltre, 31, registered a stellar .321/.365/.553 batting line, 28 home runs and 102 RBI this past season for the Red Sox.  Those numbers will take a dip in Oakland, where the dimensions aren’t as hitter-friendly as Fenway Park, but he’s still a maestro defensively and will greatly improve the A’s chances of competing in a tough AL West division.

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.