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: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.