Orioles avoid arbitration with Alexi Casilla, Steve Pearce and Taylor Teagarden

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UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Casilla got a one-year, $1.7 million deal with a $3 million club option for 2014. The O’s could buy out the option for $200,000.

7:52 PM: Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with infielder Alexi Casilla, utility man Steve Pearce and catcher Taylor Teagarden. No word yet on the terms involved.

Casilla was claimed off waivers from the Twins earlier this month. The 28-year-old earned $1.325 million this past season while hitting .241/.282./.321 with one home run, 30 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a .603 OPS over 326 plate appearances. With Robert Andino now in Seattle, Casilla figures to be in the mix at second base next season along with Brian Roberts and Ryan Flaherty.

Pearce, who turns 30 in April, batted .239/.328/.377 with four home runs, 26 RBI and a .705 OPS over 159 plate appearances this season between the Orioles, Yankees and Astros. He was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and should contend for a bench spot during spring training.

Teagarden only appeared in 22 games with the Orioles this past season due to a nagging lower back injury, but had a knack for getting big hits in important situations, amassing nine RBI in just 64 plate appearances. He turns 29 next month and should be the backup to Matt Wieters in 2013.

The Orioles also acquired minor league infielder Yamaico Navarro from the Pirates for minor league right-hander Jhondaniel Medina and designated right-hander Stu Pomeranz for assignment.

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.