Russell Martin open to re-signing with Dodgers as utility man

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Russell Martin was non-tendered by the Dodgers last night and the team seemingly replaced him behind the plate by re-signing Rod Barajas to a one-year deal, but today Martin’s agent told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that returning at a lesser salary and as a utility man may still be an option.

According to agent Matt Colleran, prior to the non-tender general manager Ned Colletti pitched the idea of Martin playing some second base, third base, and outfield in addition to catcher, but the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract before the midnight deadline. “He’s interested in the opportunity the Dodgers have described,” Colleran said.

Of course, Colleran also told Hernandez that six teams expressed interest in Martin as soon as he was non-tendered and there are various reports suggesting the Yankees were close to trading for him last night.

Martin’s willingness to play multiple positions is interesting, but the truth is that it’s been two years since he hit well enough to be an asset anywhere but behind the plate and ultimately the health of his fractured hip, not defensive versatility, will determine the bulk of his value.

According to Hernandez the Dodgers and Martin parted ways over a difference of $800,000 in guaranteed money.

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.