Jonny Venters Rumors
The St. Louis Cardinals are the class of the National League right now, having won exactly two-thirds of their first 39 games. They're fourth in the league in OBP and ninth in slugging, and third in runs scored per game partially due fantastic work with runners in scoring position. Their rotation has easily been the league's best with a 2.33 ERA, even without Chris Carpenter. While the Jason Motte-less bullpen has an NL-worst 5.00 ERA, it's at 3.27 in May, with most of the damage coming in one Carlos Martinez outing. By measure of FanGraphs WAR, Adam Wainwright, Matt Carpenter, Shelby Miller, and Yadier Molina have been the team MVPs so far. Now let's look at some links from elsewhere around the NL...
- First baseman Anthony Rizzo has a new seven-year, $41MM deal with the Cubs, but pitcher Jeff Samardzija says he isn't ready to talk contract with the club, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. "Absolutely not," said the pitcher when asked if he's looking to hammer out an extension. "Nope. This is a great team, really coming around right now, playing great baseball. I'm just really looking to keep this going. It's fun to play with these guys." Samardzija, 28, will have four years of Major League service after the season. This is just a theory of mine, but having been lured away from football in '06 with a $10MM contract, Samardzija has more financial security at this point in his career than most players, and continuing to bet on his talent will enable him to maximize his next contract.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com that he hasn't been in touch with former closer Brian Wilson lately. Sabean says that he doesn't know how Wilson is throwing but has heard The Beard is "working out like a fiend" and is "going to try to showcase himself over the All-Star break or thereabouts."
- The Phillies issued a statement regarding Roy Halladay today: "Roy had successful shoulder surgery yesterday. He had an arthroscopic evaluation and underwent debridement of his labrum and rotator cuff as well as removal of an inflamed bursa. He'll begin a progressive rehabilitation program and if all goes well, he may possibly begin a throwing program in 6-8 weeks." The 36-year-old will be eligible for free agency after the season. Scrambling for depth in the wake of the injuries to Halladay and John Lannan, the Phillies signed Carlos Zambrano to a minor league deal yesterday with a July 1st opt-out date.
- In other NL East injury news, the Braves announced reliever Jonny Venters had the second Tommy John procedure of his career today. The 28-year-old will be arbitration eligible for the second time after the season, with an expected salary similar to this year's $1.625MM.
- A clerical error could have enabled Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt to pocket an extra $500K a few years back, but he wasn't willing to pocket the money, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle via Affeldt's book, "To Stir a Movement." Affeldt believes his subsequent contract with the Giants went smoothly partly because of that decision.
THURSDAY, 7:39pm: The Braves haven't had any internal discussions about trading Venters, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link). The Venters trade rumor "appears to be unfounded," writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, and with relievers Eric O'Flaherty and Jordan Walden both dealing with injuries, Atlanta may not be able to afford moving Venters.
WEDNESDAY, 10:44am: There's talk among scouts that the Braves will listen to trade offers for left-handed reliever Jonny Venters, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). However, the Braves say they love the depth in their bullpen, particularly from the left side.
Venters appeared in 66 games in 2012, posting a 3.22 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 58 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old has a 2.23 ERA with 10.1 K/9 in three seasons with the Braves. Those numbers earned him a raise to $1.625MM this offseason when he was arbitration eligible for the first time. Venters is under team control through 2015.
If the Braves were to trade Venters they'd still have left-handers Eric O'Flaherty and Luis Avilan available in the bullpen. Teams such as the Nationals, Tigers and Dodgers could have interest in a reliever of Venters' caliber in my view. The Braves could seek a left-handed hitting bench player if they do consider trading Venters.