The Mariners are suddenly in the mix for Michael Cuddyer

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Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reported earlier tonight that at least one unidentified club was in the hunt for free agent Michael Cuddyer. Well, now we know who that might be.

Morosi and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com are both reporting that the Mariners are now talking to Cuddyer.

We haven’t heard much about Seattle this offseason and it seems like an odd fit on the surface. While Cuddyer could help at multiple positions, the presence of Ichiro means he’d probably spend a lot of time in left field. He’s only played there nine times in his 11-year major league career. Besides, it’s hard to imagine they’d be willing to meet his asking price, which Heyman suggests is now north of $30 million.

Cuddyer appeared likely to end up with the Rockies after it was reported earlier tonight that Josh Willingham had agreed to a multi-year contract with the Twins, but things have changed in the past few hours. The Willingham deal isn’t done yet and Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune adds that talks with Cuddyer aren’t dead. The most likely scenario is that they have given him one last chance to accept their proposed three-year, $24 million offer. Colorado reportedly has the biggest known offer on the table.

Cuddyer, who turns 33 in March, batted .284/.346/.459 with 20 home runs, 70 RBI, 11 stolen bases and an .805 OPS over 584 plate appearances this past season.

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.