Option calls due in by midnight Monday

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Teams and players will have to announce by midnight on Monday night whether they’re exercising or declining their 2012 options. The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster struck first Saturday, exercising his $14 million player option to stay in Chicago. Here are some of the other calls still to be made:

Grady Sizemore (Cle) – The Indians hold a $9 million option on Sizemore that ranks as one of the toughest calls of the offseason. Dealing with injuries for the third straight season, Sizemore hit .224/.285/.422 with 10 homers in 268 at-bats. Still, he’s just 29 and he was one of the AL’s best players four years running from 2005-08. For $9 million, the Indians should take the chance that he bounces back. (Update: MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian is reporting that the Indians will decline the option and pay a $500,000 buyout.)

Aramis Ramirez (ChC) – Even though Ramirez overcame a rough start to hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers, it’s long been assumed that the Cubs would decline their $16 million option on his services. That doesn’t seem likely to change with Theo Epstein in town.

Brandon Phillips, Francisco Cordero (Cin) – The Reds have been trying to work out new deals with both in lieu of picking up options worth $12 million. Phillips’ option is sure to be exercised if nothing can be worked out. Cordero seems likely to get a two-year deal worth significantly less than $12 million per season.

Marco Scutaro (Bos) – Scutaro’s contract includes a rare double option that allows Scutaro to return at a lesser price if the Red Sox decline to pick up their half of the option. However, all indications are that the Red Sox will pick up their half and bring their shortstop back at $6 million for 2012.

Nick Swisher (NYY) – The Yankees have weighed a bid for Carlos Beltran, but their plan is to exercise Swisher’s $10.25 million option. Even if they decide later that they’d rather have Beltran, Swisher should be tradeable at that price.

Yadier Molina (StL), Robinson Cano (NYY) – It’s long been obvious that these two are getting exercised. Molina will make $7 million in 2012, while Cano will get a hefty raise to $14 million.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.