The Giants are interested in signing Hunter Pence to an extension

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CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly reports that the Giants have expressed interested in signing outfielder Hunter Pence to a contract extension. Pence, 30, will become eligible for free agency for the first time in his career once the season is over. He has had one of the most productive seasons of his career, currently sitting on an .816 OPS with 21 home runs.

The five-year, $75.25 million contract the Braves gave B.J. Upton and the four-year, $48 million contract the Indians gave Michael Bourn — both signed during the past off-season — would serve as models for Pence’s extension.

Baggarly also notes that the Giants have not approached starter Tim Lincecum about an extension. The 29-year-old is wrapping up his second consecutive subpar season, currently posting a 4.40 ERA. He is earning $22 million this season, the final leg of a two-year, $40.5 million contract extension.

The Giants do plan to extend qualifying offers to both players, meaning that teams without protection would have to surrender a first round draft pick in order to sign either Pence or Lincecum.

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.