Red Sox “discussing a possible deal” with Dan Wheeler

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After losing out on several of their reported top bullpen targets the Red Sox “are discussing a possible deal” with Dan Wheeler, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.

Keeping the ball in the ballpark has been Wheeler’s weakness, with 28 homers allowed in 172 innings over the past three seasons, but he still managed ERAs of 3.12, 3.28, and 3.35 in that time thanks to a 144/47 K/BB ratio.

That includes a 46/16 K/BB ratio and .207 opponents’ batting average in 48 innings this year, which made it surprising that the Rays declined to exercise their $4 million option on the 32-year-old right-hander and then declined to offer the Type A free agent arbitration. He has a 3.31 ERA in 392 innings since 2005, including a sub-3.50 mark in five of six seasons.

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.