Astros sign No. 41 pick Lance McCullers for double slot value at $2.5 million

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Part of the Astros’ strategy in drafting Carlos Correa with the No. 1 overall pick was their ability to sign him to a below-slot bonus and use the savings to snag a tough-to-sign player later.

That player turned out to be high school right-hander Lance McCullers, who was considered a top-20 prospect based on talent alone but fell to the No. 41 pick due to signability issues.

Houston’s strategy worked, as they inked Correa for $4.8 million compared to the $7.2 million slot for the top pick and have now used the savings to sign McCullers for twice the slot amount for the No. 41 pick.

Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that McCullers agreed to a $2.5 million deal, compared to the slot amount of $1.25 million. Obviously the debate over whether the Astros made the right call with Correa will rage on for years to come, but in passing on Byron Buxton and Mark Appel they were able to add McCullers as a second high-upside pick.

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.