Padres drop Clayton Richard

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San Diego would have non-tendered Clayton Richard ahead of his final trip to arbitration this offseason anyway, but the Padres cut ties before then by outrighting the veteran left-hander from the 40-man roster yesterday.

Richard had the option to accept an assignment to Triple-A sans roster spot or become a free agent and he chose the latter, so he’ll hit the open market looking for a new contract and a bounceback year in 2014.

Acquired from the White Sox in the Jake Peavy trade, Richard posted a sub-4.00 ERA for the Padres in 2010, 2011, and 2012, but he got knocked around for 44 runs in 53 innings this season before being shut down with a shoulder injury that required surgery. He made $5.2 million and the Padres obviously had no interest in paying him anything similar in 2014, so now he’ll likely be searching for a one-year deal at age 30.

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.