Justin Verlander won’t discuss extension during season

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Tigers ace Justin Verlander isn’t interested in letting contract talks distract him during the season, reports Jon Heyman:

Verlander said Saturday that if there’s no deal in place by his next start, his last spring start, there won’t be any more contract talk through the remainder of the season, as he wants to focus on winning. So if there isn’t a new contract done in 3 1/2 days — his last spring start is Wednesday — the Tigers will have only one calendar year to sign him.

Verlander, who has won an AL Rookie of the Year award, an AL MVP award, and an AL Cy Young award, will earn $20.1 million in each of the next two seasons leading up to his free agency. Now 30 years old, an extension with the Tigers would likely take him past his age-35 season, but Verlander might be more tempted to test free agency if the Tigers don’t close the case in the next few days.

The seven-year, $175 million contract awarded to Felix Hernandez by the Seattle Mariners is thought to be a model for a potential Verlander extension, though Verlander is more than three years older.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.