Angel Pagan AP

Angel Pagan at “the top of the Braves wish list”

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I saw this rumor at the paddock before the second race, outside the men’s room when I placed my bet. I saw this rumor before it even got up this morning:

The Braves are exploring other options via free agency – San Francisco’s Angel Pagan probably tops that short list — or through a trade.

That’s David O’Brien of the AJC, who notes that the top trade target is Denard Span of the Twins, who he and others believe can be had for a starting pitcher. And the Braves do have a handful of starting pitchers in their system.

Pagan, who is 31, hit .288/.338/.440 with eight homers and 29 steals last year for the Giants. The Giants, however, are likely to want him back, and several other teams are likely to be in on that action as well.

Span is going to be 29 next year. He’s certainly not the hitter that Pagan is, but he’s also under team control for three more years at a decent price: $4.75 million in 2013, $6.5 million in 2014 and a $9 million team option for 2015.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.