Yuniesky Betancourt was said to be drawing interest last week from multiple major league teams, but free agents follow the money and the 31-year-old infielder is headed to Japan on a one-year guaranteed contract with the Orix Buffaloes.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal broke the story first.
Betancourt likely would have had to settle for a non-guaranteed minor league deal had he remained in North America. He gets better money in Nippon Professional Baseball and a much better chance for regular playing time.
A poor defender with an even poorer career on-base rate, Betancourt might have already played his final game in the majors. He batted just .212/.240/.355 in 409 plate appearances last season with the Brewers.
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.