Clint Barmes turned down Brewers to sign with Pirates

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No official announcement has been made yet, but Clint Barmes told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that his new contract with the Pirates is a two-year, $10.5 million deal.

He’s expected to take a physical exam today, at which point it’ll be finalized and he’ll take over as Pittsburgh’s starting shortstop.

Barmes explained that he signed quickly because the Pirates “threw a great offer” his way whereas the Brewers wanted to wait until the Prince Fielder situation played out.

Barmes is right about the “great offer” part, as $10.5 million tops Jamey Carroll’s two-year, $6.75 million deal from the Twins and Mark Ellis’ two-year, $8.75 million deal from the Dodgers.

Barmes is younger than Carroll and Ellis, and more importantly he’s an elite defensive shortstop, but he’s also a career .230 hitter with a ghastly .270 on-base percentage and .360 slugging percentage away from Coors Field. Barmes was better than that in his first season since leaving the Rockies, hitting .244 with a .312 OBP and .386 slugging percentage, but clearly the Pirates are paying for his glove while hoping Barmes smacks 15 homers along with all that out-making.

And now the Brewers may be left turning back to an even more extreme out-maker without Barmes’ defensive skills in Yuniesky Betancourt.

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.