Mets maintaining interest in reliever Jose Valverde

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Ken Davidoff of the New York Post has the goods:

The door remains “slightly ajar” for free agent Jose Valverde to join the Mets as their closer, an industry source told The Post.

As with the Mets’ pursuit of Michael Bourn, you bet against this actually happening. But this is considerably less complicated than the Bourn endeavor.

Less complicated because signing Valverde does not mean forfeiting a draft pick, and because the 34-year-old right-hander should come pretty cheap (on a one-year contract) after failing to attract any legitimate offers on the open market this winter.

Valverde registered a decent 3.78 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 35 saves across 69 innings last season for the American League-champion Tigers. He could serve as the Mets’ ninth-inning man while Frank Francisco recovers from lingering elbow problems. Which would mean Bobby Parnell remaining in a setup role.

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UPDATE, 3:44 PM: According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the Mets expect Valverde to sign a contract elsewhere but will “maybe consider him later” if he doesn’t wind up getting an offer.

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.