Michael Cuddyer cares so much about the Twins that he’ll accept a trade

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Talking to CBSSports.com’s Scott Miller, Michael Cuddyer said he’d be OK with waiving his limited no-trade clause and accepting a deal out of Minnesota if it’d help the franchise.

As Cuddyer himself admitted, his no-trade clause really isn’t an obstacle in the first place.  It blocks trades to just three teams, and Cuddyer wasn’t even positive which teams they are.

“Can’t remember,” he told Miller. “I think Oakland is one. Toronto. And … I’m not sure.”

Cuddyer, who hopes to stay in Minnesota in 2012 and beyond, is in the final year of an extension he signed back in 2008.  That contract included $24 million guaranteed, but since the Twins picked up the 2011 option, the deal ended up being worth $33.5 million over four years.

After a very slow start — he didn’t drive in a single run until his 17th game of the season — Cuddyer is up to .282/.347/.449 for the year.  He has five homers in June and 10 overall.

Plus, while Cuddyer doesn’t have a lot of defensive value, his ability to step in and serve as a stopgap anywhere other than shortstop or catcher makes him a nice guy to have around.  He’s started 30 games in right, 17 games at first and 13 games at second this year.

The Braves, Mariners, Phillies, Reds and Diamondbacks are a few of the contenders that he might be able to help.

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.