Report: Phillies making “strong push” to re-sign Ryan Madson

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Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Phillies are making a “strong push” to re-sign free agent closer Ryan Madson.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com hears similar information, citing one major league source who says the Phillies are working hard to keep Madson and possibly nearing an agreement.

As for Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, he’s predictably not tipping his hand.

“I do not characterize my negotiations,” Amaro said. “I need a closer. It’s no secret I need a closer.”

When asked whether he was talking to other high-profile closers like Heath Bell and Jonathan Papelbon, Amaro said, “I am talking to everyone.”

Meanwhile, Boras told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that the two sides are still “exchanging proposals.” It’s believed that Madson could find a three or four-year deal in free agency.

Madson, 31, posted a 2.37 ERA and 62/16 K/BB ratio over 60 2/3 innings this season. After struggling in the closer role in previous seasons, he went 32-for-34 in save opportunities in 2011.

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.