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UPDATE: MLB issues a statement denying the Yankees sale rumors

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UPDATE: Apparently the “Yankees could be sold” thing is a rumor so baseless that even MLB has issued a statement on the thing:

  “Major League Baseball has received no indications from any representatives of the New York Yankees or anyone else that the Club is for sale.”

So, in addition to the owners calling the news story “fiction,” there being no practical way for the team to be sold due to tax consequences and one of the writers of the article itself all but admitting it’s bull, the league has called it nonsense.

Good work, Daily News!  Please remember this the next time one of the people who work for you point at some internet writer and accuse them of ruining journalism.

9:01 AM: I tell ya, if George Steinbrenner were alive he’d be so mad at how the Yankees have been playing he’d get rid of the team! THE ENTIRE TEAM!

Rumors are flying in Major League Baseball and New York banking circles that the family that has owned Major League Baseball’s premiere franchise since Cleveland shipbuilder George Steinbrenner purchased the club for $8.8 million in 1973 is exploring the possibility of selling the Yankees.

Multiple baseball and finance sources told the Daily News they are hearing that the team the Steinbrenner family has led to seven World Series titles could be put on the block in the wake of the record sale price of $2.175 billion the Los Angeles Dodgers went for in April.

While it would seem to make decent financial sense to at least consider the possibility — if the Dodgers are worth a couple of billion the Yankees have to be worth more and, really, how much higher can franchise values go? — team president Randy Levine denied the rumors, saying that “there is absolutely, positively nothing to this.” Hal Steinbrenner called it “complete fiction.”

What’s more, the speculation in the article about it being a good time because the team is aging should probably be ignored. Because really, the value of the Yankees is not something that is going to crater or peak based on a ten-game swing of wins from one year to the rest. If they are ever sold it will be because someone is valuing them as an enduring entertainment and marketing brand, not as a team that, in a given year, may contend in the AL East.

That said, (a) if I was thinking of selling the team I wouldn’t admit it either; and (b) again, how much higher can franchise values climb?  If someone wanted to give you, I dunno, three billion for the Yankees, wouldn’t you be an idiot not to take it? That’s the likely source of this stuff — banker speculation and out-of-the-loop figurin’, not any real interest on the Yankees part to sell.

UPDATE: This seems to have less meat to it than a vegan cookout:

But hey, it’s fun to make stuff up too.  Also: Bill Madden of the Daily News is apparently on New York radio this morning being asked about it and people who are listening are saying that he’s all but saying it’s a b.s. story but is stopping just short given that, you know, his colleagues wrote it.  Oh, wait, his name is second on the byline.  Great job, Spink Award Winning Writer Bill Madden!

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

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.