Miguel Montero, Yasiel Puig

Diamondbacks, Dodgers brawl after Zack Greinke gets drilled

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The fourth hit by pitch of Tuesday’s game between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers finally did the trick; Ian Kennedy nailed Zack Greinke in the shoulder in the bottom of the seventh, touching off a modest brawl.

Punches were thrown after the benches and bullpens cleared, but most of the action was limited to yelling and shoving. Actually, the confrontation between Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and third-base coach Matt Williams was the most interesting to follow, as McGwire was holding both guys and looked like he wanted to throw some punches.

Watch the entire brawl here

Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross was the first batter hit tonight, and the Diamondbacks responded by hitting Yasiel Puig in the sixth. Greinke came back and drilled Miguel Montero in the back in top of the seventh. Both of those latter two appeared intentional, and the benches cleared after Montero was hit. Given what was most likely coming, it was pretty surprising Dodgers manager Don Mattingly sent Greinke out to hit in the bottom of the seventh. Sure enough, the first pitch was right up by his head and he took it off the shoulder, not far from where his left collarbone was broken after Carlos Quentin charged the mound back in April.

Kennedy is a lock for a suspension after making that throw, and MLB should ensure that it’s a good one. It’s one thing to intentionally hit someone, but there’s no excuse for going anywhere near a guy’s head. While pitchers are never suspended for more than one start for on-field incidents, MLB should make a statement and sit Kennedy for at least 12 games.

Greinke is also due a suspension for his intentional plunking of Montero, even if he wasn’t thrown out. It looked like he’d leave after the HBP, but he came back out of the dugout and stayed in to run. He even tried a takeout slide at second on a double-play ball afterwards. He didn’t come back out for the eighth, though.

Puig, who was ejected, could also get suspended for 2-5 games based on his actions as one of the instigators in the scrum. Dodgers relievers J.P. Howell and Ronald Belisario also made themselves front and center in the mix and should be looking at bans.

It’s probably safe to say Gibson and McGwire are looking at one- or two-game suspensions as well. Mattingly, for what it’s worth, was not ejected from the game.

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.