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Report: A’s talked to Rays about David Price before finding match with Cubs

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The blockbuster deal between the Athletics and Cubs has been officially announced. Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are headed to Oakland while Chicago will receive prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, Dan Straily, and a player to be named later or cash considerations.

With the trade, the A’s have strongly positioned themselves for another run in October, but they looked at other trade scenarios before finding a match with the Cubs. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, one involved a possible deal for the Rays’ David Price:

They considered, for example, David Price. Once they steeled themselves to trading Addison Russell, the precocious 20-year-old who was going to be their shortstop for the next seven years starting in 2015, the A’s knew anyone was in play, including Price. They talked with the Rays. Permutations of a deal went back and forth. It never materialized.

It’s unclear how talks stalled or if they ever got serious. Like Samardzija, Price is under team control for next season, so perhaps A’s general manager Billy Beane wanted two pitchers for his rotation, which the Rays couldn’t offer. From the Rays’ perspective, they likely wanted some different pieces or possibly something more significant to part with Price. For instance, they might not have had a need for someone like Dan Straily. Ultimately, the needs of both clubs didn’t match up like they did in the deal involving Samardzija and Hammel. We might never know the answers here, but it’s an interesting what-if scenario to consider.

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.

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.