Nelson Cruz tells Rangers he’s rejecting qualifying offer

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Today is the deadline for free agents to accept or decline qualifying offers made by teams and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Nelson Cruz has informed the Rangers he’ll reject the deal.

That means Cruz is confident he can do better than a one-year, $14.1 million deal on the open market. Not shocking, certainly, but interesting considering he’s a good but not great 33-year-old corner outfielder coming off a season in which he was suspended 50 games for performance-enhancing drugs and any team signing him would lose a draft pick.

When in the Rangers’ lineup Cruz hit .266 with 27 homers and an .833 OPS in 107 games, basically matching his career norms. If he signs elsewhere the Rangers will get a draft pick as compensation.

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.