Selig hands up

The owners are meeting, the owners are meeting!

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The most important part of all of this is that Bud Selig and the owners are meeting in some posh resort just outside of Phoenix while most of you are up to your neck in snow. They just don’t care about us fans, do they? Shame. Shame, I say.

Oh, they’re doin’ other stuff too:

MLB owners will begin their two-day quarterly owners meeting today in Paradise Valley, Ariz., with preparation for the upcoming CBA negotiations with the MLBPA again at the top of the agenda. No significant formal action items from the owners are expected, but much like owners meetings throughout ’10, discussion toward the upcoming labor talks will be paramount. The current five-year accord expires after the ’11 season.

For those of you who are growing increasingly disillusioned with what’s going on with the NFL labor talks, know that there is very, very little chance of a work stoppage in baseball.  A deal will be done and it will be pretty painless, mostly because neither the players nor the owners want anything that is anathema to the other.

Yes, we’ve heard that the owners want a slotted drafting system (i.e. where picks gets a set bonus based on where they are selected), and yes, union head Michael Weiner has referred to that as “a salary cap,” and the MLBPA absolutely hates salary caps, so there will likely be some back and forth on that.  But at the end of the day, union members have never really had a problem throwing non-members under the bus, and I suspect they’ll do so in this instance, even if the union leadership is philosophically opposed to it.  Same with the international draft if that becomes a part of collective bargaining.

I think both of those things are bad ideas, but the players aren’t going to risk a work stoppage to fight for them. Instead, they’ll simply extract some concessions from the owners to make them happen. Perhaps the removal of draft pick compensation or at least a revamping of it.  Probably a substantial raise in the minimum salary, which will assuage players’ guilt over caving in on slotting.  Some other things.

Basically, though, the owners and the players have realized that sixteen years of labor peace has been outrageously good for their bottom line.  No one is going to the mattresses over anything in play this time around.

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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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.