Astros “have been pursuing” free agent Jed Lowrie

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Two offseasons ago the Astros traded Jed Lowrie to the A’s for Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, and Max Stassi, and now they’re apparently interested in re-signing him as a free agent.

Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that “multiple sources say the Astros have been pursuing” Lowrie, who was not given a qualifying offer by the A’s and has no draft pick compensation attached to his free agency.

Lowrie had a breakout season with the A’s in 2013, but his OPS dropped more than 100 points this year and the 30-year-old’s defense at shortstop also came into question. However, it wouldn’t be hard for him to provide an upgrade over Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar at shortstop in Houston and he’d keep the position warm for stud prospect Carlos Correa’s eventual arrival.

Lowrie played just one season for the Astros after they acquired him from the Red Sox, hitting .244 with 16 homers and a .769 OPS in 97 games in 2012.

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.