Angels, Rays discussing trade involving James Shields

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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported over the weekend that the Angels had serious interest in acquiring starter James Shields from the Rays.

And now it appears Anaheim is getting serious.

From ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian comes word that the Halos and Rays have discussed a trade that would send Shields out west in exchange for center fielder Peter Bourjos and catcher Hank Conger. But the “deal is complicated,” according to Kurkjian’s source, because money would also have to be involved and struggling right-hander Ervin Santana might somehow be worked into the mix.

Shields, 30, has posted an ugly 4.39 ERA in 131 1/3 innings this season despite a sparkling 124/39 K/BB ratio. His contract carries a $9 million club option for 2013 and a $12 million club option for 2014.

Bourjos, 25, is an elite defender who has been made expendable by the rise of Mike Trout. Conger is a 24-year-old former first-round pick who boasts a .298/.360/.463 career batting line in the minor leagues.

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.