Adrian Gonzalez trade talk is starting up again

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Just when the Adrian Gonzalez trade talk seemed to have died down, his agent told the San Diego Union Tribune yesterday that he expects the Padres to deal the 27-year-old first baseman:

I don’t ever want to speak for ownership because I have no knowledge of what they have and what they don’t, but the feeling we’re getting is more than likely they are going to have to trade Adrian Gonzalez because they can’t afford him.

Asked about Gonzalez’s chances of remaining in San Diego long term, team CEO Jeff Moorad had a similarly pessimistic response:

While I’d be thrilled to have him part of the organization for the long term, the early signals indicate his cost will be greater than our ability to pay.

The combination of those quotes seemingly makes it all but certain that Gonzalez will be traded, but here’s the thing: San Diego still has him under contract for two more seasons at a combined cost of just $10.25 million. Controlling him cheaply for 2010 and 2011 obviously gives Gonzalez a lot more trade value, but it also means the Padres could try to rebuild around him and address the contract issue when he’s actually, you know, somewhat close to becoming a free agent.
Acting like he’s a goner two full seasons before his contract ends mostly just seems like a great way to piss off your entire fan base. Gonzalez can become a free agent after 2011, but so can Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Carlos Beltran, Jonathan Papelbon, Mark Buehrle, J.D. Drew, and a couple dozen other prominent players. You know why there aren’t articles every week with quotes about how those guys are all goners? Because for the most part their teams realize that two years is a long time.
A lot can change between now and 2012. Gonzalez could get hurt or simply decline from his current superstar level. Or maybe the Padres could even improve and start making more money. If they want to trade Gonzalez in an effort to rebuild that’s one thing, but acting like they’re being forced to make a decision two years ahead of time–and constantly letting their fans read all about it in the newspaper–is just silly.

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

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Associated Press
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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.