Padres and Indians both in hot pursuit of Joaquin Benoit

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Both the Padres and the Indians have offered two-year deals and at least $14 million in total to free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Passan’s source close to the Padres suggests the team’s deal could also include a third-year option.

Should Benoit reach such an agreement with either club, he would become the ninth reliever to earn a multi-year deal this off-season. The $14 million total is in the same neighborhood of the deals signed by Joe Nathan, Boone Logan, Joe Smith, and Javier Lopez. While the Padres and Indians have been the most aggressive in pursuit of Benoit, the Cubs, Mariners, and Yankees also showed interest.

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.