Joe Nathan expected to decline 2014 option, become free agent

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By reaching 55 games finished this season Joe Nathan got the ability to decline his 2014 option and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers expect the veteran closer to do exactly that.

Nathan would be turning down $9.5 million for 2014, but he’s looking for a multi-year deal and even at age 38 he’s been dominant enough to warrant it on the open market. Nathan saved 43 games with a 1.39 ERA and 73/22 K/BB ratio in 65 innings this season and posted a 2.09 ERA in 129 innings overall for the Rangers after coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery.

So will Texas make a multi-year bid to keep him? Sullivan doesn’t seem to think so, writing that “the Rangers are preparing to look at other options for their closer with Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz and possibly Tanner Scheppers as the prime options.”

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.