Reds now talking multi-year deal with Edinson Volquez

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The Reds haven’t been overly active in free agency this offseason, but they’ve done a nice job of locking up some of their key internal components.

Staff ace Bronson Arroyo was signed to a three-year, $35 million contract extension in early December.  Young power-hitting outfielder Jay Bruce inked a six-year, $51 million extension less than two weeks later.  Then first baseman Joey Votto got a three-year, $38 million extension on Monday and young starter Johnny Cueto scored a four-year, $27 million pact on Thursday.

But the Reds aren’t done yet.

According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, general manager Walt Jocketty said Friday that the club is talking about a multi-year contract with right-hander Edinson Volquez.

“We’re looking at both — one-year and multi-year,” said Jocketty. “We’re hopeful that we’ll get something done.”

The 27-year-old right-hander missed a good portion of the 2010 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he struck out 67 batters in 62.2 innings once he was cleared for live action and he has shown flashes of true excellence for the past several years.

Volquez is eligible for arbitration this winter for the first time.  He requested a $2 million salary for 2011 when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this week.  The Reds counted at $1.1 million.  Both sides can avoid the need for an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a multi-year pact that would lock Volquez in at a set price through his three upcoming seasons of arbitration eligibility, and maybe even a free agent year or two.

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.