Orioles discussing four-year contract with impending free agent outfielder Nick Markakis

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From beat reporter Roch Kubatko of MASN comes word that the Orioles and impending free agent Nick Markakis have been “talking for weeks” about a new contract and that the current framework of the ongoing negotiations is a four-year deal. Kubatko expects that the two sides will reach an agreement “at some point in the not-too-distant future.”

Baltimore’s exclusive window to sign Markakis closes Monday at midnight, so it’s crunch time for these discussions. If a deal isn’t struck by Tuesday, the 30-year-old outfielder will officially hit the open market.

Markakis set career highs for homers (23) and RBI (112) as a 23-year-old in 2007 and hasn’t eclipsed those numbers in the seasons since, but he owns a solid .290/.358/.435 slash line in 1,365 total big league games.

The O’s declined a $17.5 million option on Markakis on Friday, but no hard feelings.

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.