According to Nick Camino of WTAM 1100 in Cleveland, free agent outfielder Josh Willingham has narrowed his long list of suitors down to four teams: the Twins, Indians, Rockies and Mariners.
The Rays were also in the running at one point but may have backed away from the negotiating table during the Winter Meetings as Willingham’s asking price soared with an influx of interested teams.
Willingham, 32, batted .246/.332/.477 with 29 home runs and 98 RBI in 136 games this past year for the A’s. In a free agent market weak on productive outfielders, he may be able to land a three-year deal.
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.