Cardinals shopping for “an established lefty” reliever

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Left-hander Mark Rzepczynski will likely be back in 2013 after an up-and-down season, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are looking to sign “an established lefty” reliever to pair with him in the bullpen.

“I’m not opposed to a multi-year deal with a reliever,” general manager John Mozeliak told Goold. “In the past we’ve always been chasing that complementary lefty, whereas this year we might be looking for someone who can share the burden with Rzepczynski.”

It’s not a great offseason to be in the market for left-handed relievers, because Jeremy Affeldt’s three-year, $18 million deal to re-sign with the Giants sets a high bar and the best remaining targets are Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, J.P. Howell, and Mike Gonzalez.

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.