Combination of file photos of MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt

The Dodgers and MLB are in court today

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As I type this, a big hearing is going down in the Dodgers’ bankruptcy case. It’s the one in which — or after which — it will be decided who gets to bankroll the Dodgers’ operations during the pendency of the case.  Frank McCourt and the $150 million loan he has obtained or Major League Baseball and the $150 million — and possibly more in the future — it has offered to extend to the Dodgers.

As we’ve noted several times, on purely financial terms MLB’s financing is better. Lower interest and no up-front fees like that McCourt would have to pay for his proposed financing. And that matters, because the more money lost to such costs, the less available to creditors of the bankrupt Dodgers (and the interest of the creditors is the primary interest being served in bankruptcy).

Over the past few weeks McCourt has been trying to compensate for these differences by arguing that MLB’s financing is part of a plot by Bud Selig — who he called “the devil” in a filing earlier this week — to shove McCourt aside as the team’s owner. Meanwhile, the creditors and the trustee representing them have asked the judge not to approve McCourt’s financing. It’s been a pretty ugly little battle. (UPDATE: right after I wrote this, the creditors withdrew their objections, noting that McCourt’s financier has lowered the interest rate a point).

But it likely won’t be resolved by a simple decision from the judge, approving one loan and rejecting the other.  As Bill Shaikin notes in a very useful primer of today’s hearing, the judge could ask for modifications to either side or go in a totally different direction if he wants.

What is clear, however, is that if one side’s financing is clearly favored, that side will have a much greater hand in steering the future course of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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.