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.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.