Braves set to release Venters, Pena

ATLANTA -- The Braves designated for assignment injury-plagued left-hander Jonny Venters and veteran utility man Ramiro Pena, and added seven minor leaguers to their 40-man roster including top second-base prospect Jose Peraza.

The DFA move likely signals the end of their Braves careers for Venters and Pena, who would be free agents once they're released. Venters, 29, was a workhorse and one of the majors' most dominant pitchers during his first two years in the majors and posted a 2.23 ERA in 230 relief appearances in his first three seasons through 2012.

But he hasn't pitched in a game since 2012 and is expected to miss another entire season while recovering from his third Tommy John elbow surgery. Only a few pitchers have come back from a third TJ surgery to pitch at a high level.

Venters made $1.625 million in 2014 and missed the whole season while recovering from his second TJ surgery, then reinjured the elbow just before he was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment in the summer.

Pena, 29, struggled in 2014 after coming back from shoulder surgery that cut short a career-best 2013 season. After hitting .278 with a .330 OBP and .773 OPS in 107 plate appearances that year, he batted .245 with a .304 and .651 OPS in 165 PAs in 2014 and didn't have the same strength in his surgically repaired throwing arm.

He had been projected to get about $900,000 if the Braves had gone through arbitration with him.

In addition to adding Peraza to the 40-man roster, the Braves added third-base prospect Kyle Kubitza, left-handed pitcher Yean Carlos Gil and right-handers Tyrell Jenkins, Williams Perez, Mauricio Cabrera and Brandon Cunniff.

Jenkins came from the Cardinals with starter Shelby Miller in Monday's trade for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden.

Thursday is a deadline for major league teams to add players to the 40-man roster, players with enough minor league service to require protection from being poached by other teams in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

Peraza, 20, is projected to be the Braves' second baseman and leadoff man in the not-too-distant future, perhaps, possibly as early as the 2015 season at some point. The Braves traded second baseman Tommy La Stella to the Cubs last week and have an opening, but would prefer to get a veteran or someone to play second base long enough for Peraza to get a little more minor-league seasoning so they can be comfortable that he's not being rushed. Peraza hit .339 with a .364 OBP, 11 triples and 60 stolen bases in 110 games between stops at high-A Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi in 2014.

The converted shortstop -- he switched last year because Andrelton Simmons is entrenched at short -- is a dynamic talent whose arrival is eagerly anticipated, but he has only 195 plate appearances above Single-A.