Astros send Mets castoff Fernando Martinez to Triple-A

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Back in January the Astros claimed outfielder Fernando Martinez off waivers from the Mets and today Houston optioned the one-time top prospect to Triple-A.

Being cut loose by the Mets for nothing and not being able to crack the Astros’ roster certainly aren’t good signs for Martinez, but he’s still just 23 years old and could definitely benefit from the chance to get healthy and spend some time at Triple-A.

Houston used the No. 1 waiver priority to snag Martinez, whose chronic knee problems and lack of development while being rushed through New York’s farm system have caused his stock to plummet in recent years. At this point it’s tough to project Martinez as much more than a useful regular, but if healthy he should get a chance with the Astros soon enough.

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.