Cubs and Jeff Baker avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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Jeff Baker and the Cubs have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal prior to tonight’s contract-tendering deadline.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the deal is worth $1.175 million, which is a 20 percent raise from the $975,000 he earned while hitting .272/.326/.413 in a part-time role this season.

Baker has logged 333, 248, and 224 plate appearances in the past three seasons and figures to spend 2011 in a reserve role again. He started a total of 48 games this year, seeing most of his action at third base and second base.

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.