Report: Rangers, Red Sox discussed Ellsbury, Beckett deal

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According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, the Rangers and Red Sox discussed a blockbuster trade that would have sent Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett and Kelly Shoppach to Texas for undisclosed players.

Two sources told Bradford of the talks, with one describing them as preliminary and another talking about them as more advanced before falling apart. If that’s true, the talks likely died before Monday night’s deal that sent Geovany Soto to Texas. The Rangers also acquired Ryan Dempster just before Tuesday’s deadline.

The Red Sox might not have needed much back in return for Beckett and Shoppach, but they would have wanted some top talent in exchange for Ellsbury, the 2011 AL MVP runner-up who won’t be a free agent until after next season. They may have even requested shortstop Jurickson Profar, who is regarded by many as the game’s top position prospect.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The two teams could explore a deal again in the offseason if Ellsbury doesn’t prove amenable to a contract extension with the Red Sox.

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.