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MLB rumors: Braves interested in Justin Verlander; sixth year a sticking point for Atlanta, Freddie Freeman

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As we count down the days until the CBA expires on Dec. 1, we’ve got some action on the MLB rumor front. So now let’s have a quick stroll though those sun-dappled meadows of scuttlebutt… 

Braves in on Verlander

The champion Braves may be looking to add a veteran arm to their rotation, and a certain two-time Cy Young winner may be of interest: 

Verlander has pitched in one game in the last two seasons because of Tommy John surgery, and he’s not exactly a known quantity as a 39-year-old coming off a lengthy rehab process. All of that, though, means Verlander will likely wind up signing a short deal — one or two years, perhaps with a vesting option. Such a short-term commitment should be appealing to a win-now team like the Braves. Of note is that when Verlander last pitched a full season, in 2019, he won the AL Cy Young award. 

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If this pairing comes to pass, then Verlander would join a Braves rotation that already includes Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, and, they hope, Mike Soroka by early summer. 

Sixth year sticking point with Freeman, Braves

Freddie Freeman, first baseman and warrior-poet of the world champion Atlanta Braves, is a free agent. While it’s widely expected that the Braves lifer will re-up there, it’s not a given, and there’s reportedly still a significant gap in talks between the two sides. More from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman: 

A six-year pact would lock up Freeman through his age-37 campaign. That would likely extend well into his decline phase, but that’s how these things go for current superstars on the free agent market — you get big production at the front end and pay for it on the back end. Freeman’s still at or near the peak of his skills at the plate and figures to be a difference-maker at the plate for at least the next handful of seasons. Given that the Braves are quite obviously in win-now mode, Freeman is a vital piece to them. And that’s to say nothing of his immense popularity with the fan base. Other teams are no doubt interested — including the Yankees — but the guess remains that the Braves and Freeman get something done. For now, though, nothing’s certain. 

Twins wary of trading Buxton

After a disappointing 2021 season, the Twins, who won the AL Central title in 2019 and 2020, may be looking to pivot. As part of any kind of such shift, trading away center fielder Byron Buxton, who’s going into his walk year in 2022, could be appealing to the team. However, that may not happen, largely because Twins fans might not stand for it. Here’s this from Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic

“Chairman Jim Pohlad, according to major-league sources, is reluctant to move Buxton, knowing such a decision potentially would upset a fan base tired of seeing the team part with homegrown stars. But the Twins have failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension with Buxton, their dynamic, yet oft-injured center fielder who is eligible for free agency after the 2022 season. And the chances of the team returning to contention in Buxton’s final year under club control appear slim without a single veteran starting pitcher returning to the club’s rotation.”

Buxton is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, and he’s an excellent base-runner. As well, he’s cultivated a potent power swing at the plate over the last few seasons. The issue with Buxton, however, is health. Just once, in 2017, has he managed to play at least 100 games in a major-league season. The upside remains real and tantalizing for the soon to be 28-year-old, but his inability to stay healthy is just as undeniable. 

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Kansas State upsets Oklahoma, again: Wildcats beat No. 6 Sooners for third time in four seasons

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USATSI

No. 6 Oklahoma suffered its first loss of the Brent Venables era, 41-34, at home to his alma mater, Kansas State. With a third loss to the Wildcats in the past four seasons, the Sooners are 0-1 in Big 12 play for just the third time since 2012.

The Sooners won their first three games of the season by a combined 127-30, but the Wildcats cleared the 30-point mark midway through the fourth quarter thanks to monster game from quarterback Adrian Martinez. The Nebraska transfer threw for 234 yards, rushed for 148 more and scored all five Wildcats touchdowns in a career-best performance against an inconsistent Sooners defense. 

Martinez’s biggest play came late in the fourth quarter while facing third-and-16. After Oklahoma got pressure, Martinez stepped up and ran 55 yards deep into the red zone. He scored a few plays later to give the Wildcats a two-touchdown lead. 

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The Oklahoma defense will get the brunt of the blame by allowing 509 yards and 6.1 yards per play, but the offense had consistency issues of its own. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw touchdowns of 56 and 50 yards in the first half, but 11 of his other 24 completions went for five yards or fewer. Oklahoma’s offense only reached the red zone three times and scored two touchdowns, though one came with only 35 seconds remaining. 

Oklahoma lost its Big 12 opener for the first time since the COVID-19-shortened season in 2020, when it had just one nonconference matchup. Naturally, that loss came to Kansas State. The last time Oklahoma lost a Big 12 opener in a normal year was 2012. The loss? Kansas State. Since 2012, Oklahoma has lost only nine home games, but four of those have been to Kansas State

The Wildcats’ performance was a wild swing from a 17-10 loss to Tulane one week ago. Suddenly, they sit at 3-1 and tied for first place in the Big 12 at 1-0.

CBS Sports will update this story with takeaways from the game. 

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Is Hendon Hooker a strong contender for the HEISMAN?! | No. One CFB Show

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RJ Young reacts to the Tennessee Volunteers’ victory against the Florida Gators and breaks down why Hendon Hooker could be having a Heisman season here.



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Adrian Martinez runs for 4 TDs, K-State stuns No. 6 Sooners 41-34

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Kansas State QB Adrian Martinez ran for 148 yards and four touchdowns, and the Wildcats stunned No. 6 Oklahoma 41-34 on Saturday.



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