Kevin Gregg close to signing $12 million deal with Orioles

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Last week Baltimore reportedly offered Kevin Gregg a two-year, $8 million deal, but apparently that wasn’t enough because according to Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com the Orioles have upped their two-year offer to $12 million and Gregg is close to accepting.

Gregg racked up 37 saves for the Blue Jays this year for his fourth straight season with at least 20 saves, but his 3.79 ERA during that time isn’t particularly impressive and he blew six save chances this year to finish with a success rate of 86 percent that’s basically right at the MLB average.

Gregg is a decent setup man who’s apparently about to be paid like something a step or two above that because he’s gotten a chance to rack up saves in the past.

According to McDonald the Nationals and Red Sox are also in the mix for Gregg, who would presumably compete for ninth-inning duties with Koji Uehara if he indeed opts to join the Orioles.

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.