Nationals among five finalists for Mark Buehrle

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Several sources are reporting that Mark Buehrle is down to five finalists, and while it’s not yet certain what five teams those are, CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler is guessing that it’s the Angels, Cardinals, Marlins, Nationals and Rangers.

Andrea Comak of The Washington Times has a source confirming that the Nationals are one of the five.

Buehrle is holding out for a four-year deal and is expected to command about $14 million per season. It’d be a heavy commitment to a guy who barely manages one strikeout every two innings, but the 32-year-old Buerhle is remarkably durable and consistent. He’s thrown 200 innings in each of his 11 full seasons and finished with a sub-4.00 ERA eight times.

If the Nationals can get Buehrle, he’d lead a rotation also set to include Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang and John Lannan. That could make Lannan expendable in the team’s hunt for a center fielder, with Ross Detwiler potentially taking his spot.

The Cardinals, Buehrle’s hometown team, are trying to trade Kyle Lohse to open up a rotation spot for the left-hander, an assignment that has gotten tougher with Lohse likely to wield his no-trade clause.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.