Thanks again, HBT readers!

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With the trade deadline in our rear view mirror, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of the HBT Multiverse* for clicking in and reading us as the rumors went wild and the news nuggets flew these past couple of weeks.

Traffic was through the roof in July. That’s nice, but even nicer is that there has been a nice steady climb in readership of the blog each month since the day we started it last year.  That means that you’re not only showing up for the big news and transactions, but that you’re sticking around for the highs and lows of the baseball season too. We’re glad you’ve come and we’re glad you’ve stayed.

I know the redesign was rocky and at times annoying and I know that no one needs to see my pasty mug on video six times a week, but through all that adversity, you folks have remained loyal and — more importantly — haven’t stopped giving us the business in the comments when we’ve needed it.  We view this blog as a conversation, and we’re happy you’re talking back.

We’re pumped as hell for the pennant races to start sizzling this month and next, and from the playoffs through the winter meetings and on into next spring we’re going to keep it rockin’ like Dokken for you.

In the meantime, never hesitate to click the little “tip/feedback” button to the left to tell us what you’re hearing, what you like, what you hate and anything and everything else you can think of short of requests to help you “liberate certain funds that are on deposit with the Central Bank of Nigeria.” Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us three, four and five times, well, that was Gleeman’s fault. He thought we were due.

I lost my train of thought.  So let me just explain — wait, that would take too long, so let me sum up — by saying, once again, thanks!

*Take that Yankees and Red Sox. You can have your puny universes and nations.

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
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.