REPORT: Yankees acquire Javier Vazquez and a reliever from the Braves for Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn

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Javier Vazquez headshot.pngMultiple sources, including Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman and the Daily News’ Mark Feinsand are reporting that the Yankees and Braves have agreed to a trade in which the Braves will send starter Javier Vazquez and reliever Boone Logan to the Yankees in exchange for Melky Cabrera, lefty Mike Dunn and an as yet unnamed prospect. UPDATE: Joel Sherman tweets that the prospect is righty pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, who he says impressed in a short season for Staten Island this year. [random thought: with that name, how many Braves fans can I fool by saying that they got “Arod” from the Yankees?]

Instant analysis: the Braves and their fans would probably rather have Nick Swisher, but Melky may translate well to the NL, and Nate McLouth — despite his gold glove — could slide over to left field where he probably belongs.  For the Yankees, Vazquez would help fill out a rotation that currently looks light once you get beyond Sabathia and Burnett.  Pettitte is going to crater one of these days. I’ve never bought the notion that the Yankees would put both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in the rotation. Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre are not exactly championship starters.

The big question: did the Yankees buy-high on Vazquez? He’s coming off his best season and given his strikeout rate, there’s good reason to believe that he’ll be highly effective in 2010. But he does give up a lot of dingers, and that will only get worse in the bandbox that is New Yankee Stadium.

Ultimately, however, Melky Cabrera is eminently replaceable, and Vazquez solidifies the rotation, which was one of Brian Cashman’s top priorities, so it’s a good deal for New York, even if the talk radio freaks will be complaining about his performance in 2004 all day.

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

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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

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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.