Braves sign Craig Kimbrel to four-year, $42M extension

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The Braves have signed closer Craig Kimbrel to a four-year contract extension, avoiding salary arbitration for the next three seasons and locking him up through at least his first year of free agency. This according to the club’s official Twitter account.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports says the deal also carries a club option for the 2018 season, which would be Kimbrel’s second year of free agency.

The total potential value of the four-year contract and club option is $58 million, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. It has $42 million guaranteed.

Kimbrel, 25, owns a ridiculous 1.39 ERA and 15.1 K/9 in 227 1/3 career major league innings. He saved a league-high 50 games last year for the Braves, who finished 10 games up in the National League East.

Atlanta has also inked first baseman Freddie Freeman and starting pitcher Julio Teheran to long-term extensions this winter, and outfielder Jason Heyward avoided arbitration earlier this month on a two-year, $13.3 million deal.

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.