Dave Dombrowski sent some fun smack talk to Billy Beane after the David Price deal

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OK, so this is pretty fantastic.

Athletics general manager Billy Beane strengthened his team’s rotation this morning by acquiring left-hander Jon Lester from the Red Sox. Hours later, the Tigers answered by picking up left-hander David Price as part of a three-team deal with the Rays and Mariners. As Jane Lee of MLB.com relays below, Beane received some good-natured smack talk from Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski just moments before the 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline passed:

Competing both on and off the field. I dig it. The arms race between the Athletics and Tigers is just too much fun. There’s still two months remaining in the regular season and I have no horse in this race, but it would be quite a treat to see these two teams square off in the playoffs for a third straight year.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉