The Braves want to lock up Martin Prado

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The Braves had both Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens up for bids over the winter before declining to trade either. Jurrjens’ status with the team going forward remains unsettled, but in light of Prado’s strong campaign, the Braves are hoping to lock their No. 2 hitter up to a long-term deal, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports.

The plan almost certainly will be to have Prado take over at third base next year with Chipper Jones headed off to retirement. The 28-year-old has played mostly left field this season, but he has made 16 starts at third in place of Chipper. Overall, he’s hit .318/.376/.451 in 337 at-bats. If he keeps it up, it’d be the third time in his four full seasons that he’s batted over .300, with only 2011’s disappointing .260/.302/.385 campaign standing out.

Prado is making $4.75 million this year and should be in line for $6 million-$7 million next year in his final season of arbitration. If the Braves can sign him for that same kind of annual salar for three years, such a pact wouldn’t be a bad idea. They have an intriguing third-base prospect in Edward Salcedo, but he’s just 20 and he could still go either way.

Video: Justin Verlander reaches career mark with 270th strikeout

Justin Verlander
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Justin Verlander is approaching the tail end of a fantastic year with the Astros — arguably one of his best in the last decade — and on Saturday, he kicked off his last regular season start at Minute Maid Park with a strikeout, his 270th of the year. While that’s still a few shy of Max Scherzer‘s league-best mark of 290, it was a new personal record for Verlander, who had yet to beat the previous career record he set with 269 strikeouts in 2009.

Verlander’s moment arrived at the top of the first inning on a seven-pitch called strikeout against the Angels’ Kole Calhoun. Cole worked a 2-2 count, then fouled off a pair of 95-MPH fastballs before missing the seventh and final pitch at the top of the strike zone.

Jose Fernandez battled twice as long in the next at-bat, albeit with far more disastrous results. His 14-pitch duel against the Astros’ righty ended when he caught a fastball on his hand and was forced to come out of the game.

After expending a total of 27 pitches in the first inning, however, Verlander returned in the second to strike out the side, then logged another pair of strikeouts in the third. With six strikeouts through three innings, he boosted his season strikeout total to 275 — just a hair above fellow Houston righty Gerrit Cole (and all other AL pitchers), who previously led the team with 272 whiffs on the year.