The Cubs sign Carlos Pena to a one-year deal

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Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports that the Cubs have agreed to a deal with Carlos Pena. It’s believed to be for $10 million.

This makes sense for Pena, I think, who can use a year in the friendly confines to build up value and then return to the market next winter when there won’t be as many other first basemen around as there are this year. For the Cubs? Well, they need a first baseman because the other infielders need someone to throw the ball to.  If Pena rebounds, great, everyone is happy.  If not, hey, one year.

I think he’ll bounce back a bit, however, because (a) the NL Central is way, way easier than the AL East; and (b) his line of .196/.325/.407 was horrible, but he was really unlucky, hitting only .222 on balls in play. The average should tick up a bit, and his plate discipline is excellent, so there’s a good chance he’ll be a useful first baseman next 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.