Twins set to sign Mike Pelfrey for $4 million

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CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman is reporting that the Twins and Mike Pelfrey have come to terms on a one-year deal worth $4 million.

The deal includes $1.5 million in incentives for the rehabbing right-hander.

The soon-to-be 29-year-old Pelfrey had a 2.29 ERA in three starts for the Mets last season before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He went 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA in 2010, but he slipped to 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA in 2011. The Mets non-tendered him earlier this month rather than pay him $5 million-$6 million in arbitration.

Once healthy, Pelfrey will join fellow National League imports Vance Worley and Kevin Correia in a rotation that has just one sure returnee in Scott Diamond. The Twins could also add one more veteran to compete with holdovers Nick Blackburn, Liam Hendriks and Cole De Vries for an opening.

The gamble on Pelfrey is interesting, considering that the Twins let the similarly positioned Scott Baker go to the Cubs in free agency earlier this winter. Baker, likewise rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, signed for $5.5 million, plus incentives. And unlike Pelfrey, Baker has already proven he can cut it in the AL. The Twins got burnt last year by Jason Marquis, who had no AL experience and was roasted to the turn of an 8.47 ERA in seven starts before earning his release.

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.