Red Sox considering free agent A.J. Pierzynski

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The Red Sox are known to have interest in free agent catcher Brian McCann, but they’ll be competing for his services against some of the richest teams in baseball so backup plans are being put in motion.

Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that the Boston front office has reached out to free agent backstop A.J. Pierzynski, who, unlike McCann, does not require draft pick compensation. Pierzynski is not a very good defensive catcher and his low walk rate does not fit the normal Red Sox offensive profile, but the eccentric 36-year-old has amassed 44 homers and 147 RBI in 269 games over the last two seasons, is as durable as any catcher in the league, and will likely come relatively cheap.

The Red Sox are seeking a catcher to either platoon with or start ahead of David Ross. Bradford says that free agent Carlos Ruiz may be an option, and re-signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia remains a possibility.

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.