Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have reached agreement on a one-year major league contract with free agent second baseman Mark Ellis. The deal is only pending a physical and should be officially announced at some point early this week.
Ellis batted just .270/.323/.351 in 126 games this past season for the Dodgers and he owns a weak .265/.330/.390 career slash line, but the 36-year-old is a very good defensive infielder and will pair well in 2014 with new Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, a first-round pick in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft and left-handed hitter. The veteran Ellis bats right-handed.
No word yet on the financial terms. Ellis made $5.25 million in 2013 with Los Angeles.
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.