UPDATE: mixed word now on Bobby Jenks and the Rays

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UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal tweets that there is “heavy action” on Jenks, including the Rays, but that the Yankees and others have interest too. He says Jenks is not close to a decision yet, however.  In other news, I suppose all action on Bobby Jenks would be “heavy.”

10:12 PM: Marc Topkin says that the Rays and Jenks aren’t close to anything.  I’m assuming he got a denial from the team. My source stands by what he’s telling me. So I guess we wait this one out and see what happens, eh?

8: 58 PM: Bobby Jenks and the Tampa Bay Rays are talking as we speak, and a deal between the two of them could be done as early as tonight, a major league source tells me.  No word on the terms yet. No word on the meal per diem.

Jenks made $7.5 million in 2010 and was non-tendered by the White Sox because the guy is not deserving of a raise right now. His save total has dropped each of the last four seasons, he’s becoming more hittable than he used to be and his walk rate is up.  Over the past two seasons he has an ERA of 4.08. He’s good, but not great anymore. But with the Rays losing Rafael Soriano to free agency, someone has to close.

Absent a big bounce back year, the back end of the pen is yet another area in which the Rays will be worse in 2010 than 2011. But that go for anyone trying to fill the shoes of Soriano.  Jenks is a good signing for them if the money is reasonable. Which it probably is.

UPDATE:  Hadn’t seen this before but Tommy Rancel — who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Winter Meetings last week — had a post a couple of weeks ago over at Process Report talking about how nice a fit Jenks would be with the Rays.  I’m going to assume that the wise Rays front office read it because it would make me happy to think that they had.

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.