ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have acquired a familiar name to bolster their bullpen.
Shortly after an 8-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Braves announced a trade for Tampa Bay left-hander Jonny Venters in exchange for an international signing slot.
The 33-year-old Venters came up with the Braves and was a key member of the bullpen from three seasons, making the All-Star Game in 2011. But persistent elbow problems stifled his career; he had not pitched in the big leagues until he was called up by the Rays this season.
“Obviously, everyone in Atlanta knows him very well,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “But his velocity is good. Sink is still outstanding. That’s reflected in the ground-ball rates. The numbers against left-handers are real strong.”
Venters is the third pitcher dealt in the last two days by the Rays, who are far back in the AL East and 8 1/2 games out of a wild-card berth.
The Braves, on the other hand, led the NL East much of the season but are now 2 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies after dropping 11 of 16 games.
Anthopoulos was eager to add to a bullpen that is missing closer Arodys Vizcaino. The hard-throwing right-hander is on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation and at least two weeks away from throwing again.
Venters gives the Braves another option.
“Whenever you’re acquiring players, you’re looking at talent first,” Anthopoulos said. “Make no mistake, we think against the lefties with his stuff and his sink and his slider, he can do a solid job for us.”
Venters has made 22 appearances — all but one as a reliever — in his return to the big leagues. He pitched only 27 2/3 minor league innings between 2013 and 2017 while dealing with three elbow surgeries.
The Braves didn’t have to pay a heavy price.
Due to an international signing scandal that led to former GM John Coppolella receiving a lifetime ban from baseball, the Braves are rebuilding their scouting department and limited in the number of signings they can make outside of the United States.