The Braves added bullpen help Thursday night, and they wrote a feel-good story in the process.
Jonny Venters, a staple in the Braves’ bullpen from 2010-12, is back. The Braves acquired Venters from the Rays, the teams announced.
They sent $250k in international bonus pool money to the Rays. The Braves are limited to $300k maximum in international market due to penalties incurred by previous regime, so what they surrendered was negligible.
Venters, 33, is a Braves fan favorite. He’s battled through an astounding three Tommy John elbow surgeries to pitch in the majors again. He’s earned a 3.86 ERA across 14 innings (22 appearances) with the Rays.
During his Braves tenure, Venters produced a 2.23 ERA in 230 appearances, 85 of which came in an All-Star season in 2011. After 66 appearances in 2012, Venters didn’t return to the majors until this season.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos had spoken with the Rays about Venters over the past few days. As late as Thursday afternoon, he had doubts the deal would get done, or at least be completed so soon. But it was finished following the Braves’ 8-2 loss to the Dodgers.
“Stuff’s been good,” Anthopoulos said. “Obviously everyone in Atlanta knows him very well. But velocity’s good, sink is still outstanding. That’s reflected in the ground-ball rates, still very high. The numbers against left-handers, still real strong. We could use some help from the left side. A guy who can get ground balls, swings and misses from the left side, has good stuff, give him a shot.”
Anthopoulos acknowledged he looked at talent first, but Venters’ makeup was appealing. The GM approached manager Brian Snitker with the idea within the past couple days.
“He couldn’t say yes (fast enough) before the word ‘Venters’ came out of my mouth,” Anthopoulos said. “Done. Everyone really likes him. He’s had a reputation as one of the good guys in the game. So that’s obviously a nice add.”
Venters is the first domino to fall in what could be several bullpen changes. The Braves have needed a boost in their relief group, especially following the late struggles of lefty Sam Freeman.
The team will announce a corresponding roster move Friday.