Third base has become an increasingly difficult position to fill properly. As an example, Juan Uribe has earned the biggest contract at the position this off-season, recieving $15 million over two years from the Dodgers. As a result, the Cubs may end up having to give their starting third base job to Luis Valbuena, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com suggests.
Valbuena has a career .654 OPS but posted a .708 mark in 2013 along with 12 home runs in 391 trips to the plate. He got the lion’s share of the playing time at the position last season. The Cubs’ other option is Mike Olt but he struggled with Triple-A Iowa after coming over to the Cubs from the Rangers in the Matt Garza trade.
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.