Ervin Santana wants to sign with a strong offensive team ASAP

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Earlier, we learned that the Phillies might have checked in with free agent starter Ervin Santana. But, wait! There’s more Ervin Santana news.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is hearing from sources that Santana wants to sign a one-year deal as quickly as possible, preferably with a strong offensive team. Rosenthal adds that the Blue Jays and the Orioles fit this description. Santana is willing to sign now rather than wait which would have made him exempt from a qualifying offer for the 2014 season. That’s an important note because the qualifying offer is why he is in his current predicament.

The Phillies averaged the third-fewest runs per game in the National League last season, averaging 3.77 runs per game. They could see a slight uptick in runs with the addition of Marlon Byrd and if their core can stay healthy, but that’s a gamble. The Orioles tied for the fourth-highest RPG in the American League at 4.60, while the Jays were just slightly above the AL average at 4.40. The Mariners, another team commonly linked to Santana, averaged 3.85 runs per game last year.

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.