Report: Dodgers sign Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero for $32 million

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Update: Guerrero’s agent has denied that there’s an agreement in place, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. He says there are still three teams in the mix.

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Cuban shortstop Alexander Guerrero, who defected and set up shop in the Dominican Republic back in January, has inked a seven-year, $32 million contract with the Dodgers, according to ESPN Desportes’ Dionisio Soldevila.

Before sitting out the 2012-13 season, Guerrero was one of Cuba’s best players and it’s best offensive middle infielder. He hit .338/.408/.641 in 2009, .343/.414/.583 in 2010 and .310/.400/.599 in 2011, amassing a total of 60 homers in 886 at-bats between the three seasons. His numbers aren’t quite up to par with what Jose Abreu, Alfredo Despaigne, Yulieski Gourriel and Frederich Cepeda have done in the Cuba, but they’re a match for those that Yoenis Cespedes put up before defecting.

Guerrero probably won’t hit for quite the same kind of power in the larger ballparks of the U.S., and his numbers defensively at shortstop were nothing special. A move to second base may have been needed anyway, and reports are already suggesting that the Dodgers are looking at him as a long-term replacement for Mark Ellis in the lineup. Since he hasn’t played lately, he’ll begin his Dodgers career in the minors. However, if he finds his swing in a hurry, he could contribute this year.

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.