Braves, Martin Prado avoid arbitration with one-year, $4.75 million deal

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Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the Braves and Martin Prado have avoided arbitration by agreeing on a one-year, $4.75 million contract.

Prado, who is under team control through 2013, earned $3.1 million last season while batting .260/.302/.385 with 13 homers, 57 RBI and a .687 OPS over 590 plate appearances while making 90 starts in left field, 35 at third base and two at first base. The 28-year-old missed more than a month with a staph infection in his right leg and batted just .244 with a .622 OPS upon his return in mid-July, so it’s possible he may have rushed back too soon.

We’ve heard plenty of trade rumors involving Prado this offseason, most notably with the Rockies and Orioles, but barring any last-minute deals, he’ll open 2012 as the Braves’ starting left fielder.

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.