Padres’ veteran double play duo Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett “could be released”

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In trading standout reliever Ernesto Frieri to the Angels yesterday the Padres picked up a prospect they hope will be their long-term second baseman in Alexi Amarista.

He doesn’t project as a star player and for now Amarista is at Triple-A anyway, but Dan Hayes of the North County Times reports that the clock may be ticking on the Padres’ current double-play duo of veterans Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett.

In fact, Hayes writes that “team sources have confirmed that neither player is in the Padres’ long-term plans” and “both could be released before the season ends.”

Bartlett is hitting .164 and has a $5.5 million option or $1.5 million buyout for next season that vests if he reaches 432 plate appearances, which could make it tough to unload him via trade. Hudson is hitting .210 and has an $8 million option or $2 million buyout for next season, but with no plate appearance-based vesting he might be a bit easier to unload if San Diego eats all the remaining salary.

Whatever the case, Hayes clearly thinks there’s a good chance Amarista and Everth Cabrera are the Padres’ double-play duo in the second half. And maybe before then.

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.