Rays and Joe Maddon on verge of three-year extension

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For weeks now the Rays and Joe Maddon have reportedly been close to finalizing a multi-year contract extension and now Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says the new deal will be for three seasons and figures to be announced within a few days.

As for why they haven’t agreed to the deal yet, Topkin notes that Maddon has been vacationing in Europe and doesn’t return until later this week, at which point the two sides will want to make things official before pitchers and catchers start showing up to spring training.

Maddon has a 495-477 (.509) record in six seasons as Rays manager, including four straight winning seasons and three playoff appearances in the past four years, two of which resulted in him winning Manager of the Year. There’s a strong case to be made for Maddon as the league’s best manager and, much like Andrew Friedman turning down other general manager offers to remain in Tampa Bay, his wanting to stick with the Rays’ long term is crucial to the team continuing to thrive with small payrolls.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.