Justin Masterson is still discussing an extension with the Indians

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Justin Masterson avoided arbitration with the Indians last week by agreeing to a one-year, $9.7625 million contract, but today he told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the two sides remain in touch about a possible contract extension.

Masterson has the ability to become a free agent after this season, but he expressed optimism about sticking around for the long-term by saying, “I figure somehow, someway I end up still being here for a few more years.” It’s believed that the Indians have made an offer in the range of three or four years while Masterson’s agent, Randy Rowley, has submitted a counteroffer. Masterson is hoping for some sort of resolution before the start of the regular season.

“There’s nothing monumental,” said Masterson, “but we have talked a little bit. I would imagine if something gets done it would be before the season begins. That’s probably where we’re at.”

Masterson turns 29 in March and owns a 4.08 ERA over 135 starts and 10 relief appearances since coming over from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade in 2009. He posted a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio in 193 innings last year. His 24.3 percent strikeout rate was the best of his career and 13th-highest among qualified starters. It will be interesting to see what he commands in an extension, as Hoynes makes an argument that he is comparable to Homer Bailey, who recently inked a six-year, $105 million extension with the Reds.

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.