Martin in “serious discussions” with Yanks, Red Sox and Jays

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Russell Martin’s agent said today that the rehabbing catcher is in “serious” talks with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays after the Dodgers all but ruled out a return by signing both Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro.

According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com the Red Sox have made an offer to Martin, who was non-tendered last week when the Dodgers balked at his request for $5 million in guaranteed money coming off a fractured hip that sidelined him for much of this year.

Boston already has Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate, but at his healthy, productive best Martin was an upgrade over both of them and also has the defensive versatility to play elsewhere if needed. Of course, whether his bat would make him an asset elsewhere at this point is another question.

It’ll be interesting to see if whichever team signs Martin does so while getting a club option for 2012, as that could be the real value if his recovery from the hip injury sidelines him for part of 2011 or leaves him at less than full strength initially when he does return.

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.