Tampa Bay Rays Trade Jonny Venters To Atlanta Braves

(via Tampa Bay Rays Communications) - The Tampa Bay Rays have traded left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for an international signing slot.

Venters, 33, went 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA (14-IP, 6-ER) in 22 appearances (one start) this season with the Rays. As a reliever, he pitched to a 0.66 ERA (13.2-IP, 1-ER) in his 21 apps. He was selected by the club to the major league roster on April 25 and made his Rays debut that night, his first appearance in the majors in 2,028 days—since the National League Wild Card Game on October 5, 2012 (with Atlanta). Incidentally, it was the last major league game of former teammate Chipper Jones, who will be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend. He became the second pitcher to ever return to the majors after three Tommy John surgeries, following Jason Isringhausen, according to FanGraphs.

Venters underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005, 2013 and 2014. He originally signed with the Rays as a minor league free agent on March 11, 2015, and returned from his third Tommy John surgery to make five appearances for Class-A Charlotte in 2016 before the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow was torn for a fourth time. He underwent an additional “half-Tommy John,” performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, to reattach the ligament, and made 24 apps in the minors in 2017.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Venters was the first former All-Star to return to the majors after missing at least five years since Justin Thompson, who was an All-Star in 1997 and pitched for the Texas Rangers on August 18, 2005 in his first game since August 15, 1999. He became the third player to return and play for the Rays after being out of the majors for at least five years, both of them position players: Rich Thompson (May 16, 2012, first game since April 22, 2004; eight years, 24 days in between) and Chris Richard (September 7, 2009, first game since April 30, 2003; six years, 130 days in between).

On May 15 against the Kansas City Royals, Venters recorded his first win since August 17, 2012, going 2,096 days in between. Between victories, 1,058 other pitchers earned a win in the majors, with Max Scherzer leading the way over that span with 100 wins. On May 28 against the Oakland Athletics, he recorded his first save since August 22, 2011, going 2,470 days in between. During that stretch between saves, 469 other pitchers earned a save in the majors, with former Braves teammate Craig Kimbrel leading the way over that span with 267 saves. With his start on June 6 against the Washington Nationals, Venters became the only pitcher in major league history to start a game after three Tommy John surgeries.

Venters was selected by the Braves in the 30th round of the 2003 June Draft out of Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce, Fla. He spent parts of three seasons (2010-12) with the Braves, going 15-10 with a 2.23 ERA (229.2-IP, 57-ER) while forming a dangerous back end of the Braves bullpen with Craig Kimbrel and Eric O’Flaherty. During that span, he ranked among major league relief leaders in apps (230, tied for second), strikeouts (258, fourth), wins (15, tied for fourth) and ERA (eighth)…in 2011, he was a National League All-Star and led the majors with 85 apps.

RAYS - Tropicana Field

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