Wednesday's Quick Hits – Get ready for two more All-Stars

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MLB announced Wednesday that it has expanded All-Star rosters to add 13th pitcher.

Because who could reasonably be expected to get by with 12?

From now on each All-Star team will have 33 players, including 13
pitchers. Obviously, the decision is a response to what happened last
year, when George Sherrill was asked to throw 2 1/3 innings out of the
pen in the 15-inning game. Of course, that only happened long after Roy
Halladay threw nine pitches in one inning and Francisco Rodriguez
worked one-third of an inning.

Orioles right-hander Koji Uehara was diagnosed with a partially torn flexor tendon in his elbow and is expected to miss two months.

The good news is that no ligament damage was found. Even if Uehara
ends up needing surgery, he should be able to return at 100 percent
next season.

Questions about how Uehara, who had spent time as a closer in Japan,
would hold up as a full-time starter in the U.S. forced him to settle
for a two-year, $10 million contract from the Orioles. I still think it
was a great gamble for Baltimore. He has been pretty solid while
healthy, amassing a 4.05 ERA in 12 starts.

The injury could mean that we’ll see top prospect Chris Tillman in
the majors before the end of the month. David Hernandez is filling in
at the moment.

After making it clear
Tuesday that David Wright would have Wednesday off, manager Jerry
Manuel put his All-Star third baseman into the lineup against the
Brewers.

Wright still seemed to think he had the day off, as he went 0-for-4
with three strikeouts and committed his 12th error of the year.
Fortunately for Manuel, the Mets won 1-0 anyway. It doesn’t make Manuel
any easier to take seriously.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.