Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says Ernesto Frieri will be the closer next season

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The Angels have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for free agent closers this winter, but the team isn’t planning on making any changes. Or at least that’s what they are saying right now.

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was on MLB Network Radio on Sirius-XM yesterday and told host Mel Antonen that Ernesto Frieri will be the closer in 2014. While this sounds like a vote of confidence, it could be an attempt to downplay interest in some of the big-name closers on the market, including Joe Nathan and Grant Balfour.

Frieri is coming off an up-and-down year in which he posted a 3.80 ERA and 98/30 K/BB ratio over 68 2/3 innings while going 37-for-41 in save chances. Known as a fly ball pitcher, he gave up 11 home runs after allowing 12 combined between 2011 and 2012. The 28-year-old right-hander is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.

You can listen to part of Dipoto’s interview on Sirius-XM here, where he also touches on yesterday’s acquisition of David Freese.

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.