Diamondbacks “are trying to trade” Justin Upton … again

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Shortly after taking over as Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers made headlines for saying he’d be open to trading Justin Upton for the right package.

Two years later Upton remains in Arizona, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Diamondbacks “are trying to trade” him following a disappointing season in which Upton saw his OPS drop 113 points compared to 2011.

Just last month owner Ken Kendrick said that the Diamondbacks were “highly unlikely” to trade Upton, but according to Rosenthal “the team is again engaged in active discussions.”

Rosenthal speculates that the Rangers could be a potential fit, mentioning shortstop Elvis Andrus by name. Last season Upton had the ability to block trades to the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and Indians, but a source told Rosenthal that the list has since changed.

Upton is set to earn $9.75 million in 2013, $14.25 million in 2014, and $14.5 million in 2015. He’s still just 25 years old and one season removed from finishing fourth in the MVP balloting, but the Diamondbacks are pretty deep in outfielders thanks in part to the emergence of top prospect Adam Eaton and clearly have doubts about the former No. 1 overall pick’s ability to develop into a superstar.

Or maybe Towers just likes keeping Upton on his toes constantly.

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.