Reds, Pirates and Indians among teams interested in Carlos Quentin

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The next 24 hours will be dominated by All-Star Game coverage, but it won’t be long before this space is filled with rumors leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And we’re already hearing some chatter regarding one of the most popular names on the market.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that the Reds, Pirates and Indians are among the teams who have expressed interest in Padres’ outfielder Carlos Quentin. The Marlins inquired at one point, but it’s not clear if they still have interest after acquiring Carlos Lee last week. The Tigers and Blue Jays were initially mentioned as possibilities, but they are now looking to upgrade in other areas.

The Padres acquired Quentin from the White Sox during the offseason, but their poor first half (34-53) has rendered him a logical trade chip. The 29-year-old didn’t make his season debut until May 28 following knee surgery, but he’s hitting .268/.408/.518 with seven home runs, 17 RBI and a .924 OPS through 138 plate appearances. While the Padres have expressed interest in a long-term deal for the San Diego native, the team’s unsettled ownership situation puts a wrinkle into any such plans.

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.