Orioles considered darkhorse for Yoenis Cespedes

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From Nick Cafardo’s Sunday notes column in the Boston Globe, a must-read every weekend:

Yoenis Cespedes, CF, free agent – There was a lot of talk late in the week that the Orioles were the sleeper team for him. The Marlins, Tigers, and Cubs are also interested, but the Orioles are very aggressive in their pursuit of foreign-born players.

Cespedes paid a visit to Miami last week to meet with Marlins officials and was reportedly made a six-year offer worth a little under $40 million. If the O’s can top that proposal and the ones made by other interested clubs, they’ll obviously have a shot.

Cespedes, 26, batted .333/.424/.667 with 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games last year in Cuba.

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.