Cubs sign No. 4 pick Kyle Schwarber for below slot bonus

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When the Cubs drafted Indiana University catcher Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick it was viewed as a surprising move and the assumption was that they’d save money on that signing and use the extra funds to help snag a high-upside player later in the draft.

Sure enough, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports that Schwarber and the Cubs have agreed to a deal worth $3.125 million, which is about $1.5 million below the slot-recommended bonus of $4.621 million for the No. 4 overall pick.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Schwarber will prove to be a poor choice. Prior to the draft Baseball America rated him as the 17th-best prospect in the class and he hit .350 with huge power and an OPS above 1.100 in his final two college seasons. And now the Cubs have $1.5 million to throw around in an effort to add a harder-to-sign player from later in the draft.

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.