O’s might be open to trading Chris Tillman this winter

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Chris Tillman was a second-round pick of the Mariners back in the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft. He posted intriguing strikeout numbers at a few different levels of Single-A between 2006-2007 before being dealt in an offseason trade to the Orioles in 2008.

That’s when his profile really began rising.

Tillman registered a 3.18 ERA and 154/65 K/BB ratio across 135 2/3 innings for the O’s Triple-A affiliate in 2008, and was rated 22nd on Baseball America‘s Top 100 prospect rankings heading into the 2009 season. In July of 2009, he made his major league debut against the Royals to a good degree of hype.

But it’s been mostly downhill since then for Tillman, and now Roch Kubatko of MASN is hearing that Baltimore “would be willing to” trade the young righty this offseason if they’re able to find interest.

The 6-foot-5 Tillman posted a 5.52 ERA and 46/25 K/BB ratio in 62 innings this year in the majors and a 5.87 ERA over 53 2/3 innings in 2010. Even on an O’s roster that is short on reliable starting arms, he’s a longshot to land a spot in the 2012 Opening Day rotation. So rather than asking the 23-year-old to transition into a reliever, thus stunting his long-term potential, the O’s might go ahead and try to find him a new team.

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.