Astros and Chris Carter avoid arbitration

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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Astros and DH Chris Carter have avoided arbitration with a one-year deal worth $4.175 million. Carter was eligible for arbitration for the first of four years.

Carter, 28, had a breakout season for the Astros in 2014, batting .227/.308/.491 with 37 home runs and 88 RBI in 572 plate appearances. Part of his offensive success can be attributed to striking out 30 fewer times than he did in 2013 in a comparable amount of PA’s.

Carter was taken by the White Sox in the 15th round of the 2005 draft. He went to the Diamondbacks in the Carlos Quentin deal in December 2007 and shortly thereafter went to the Athletics (along with Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson) in the Dan Haren trade. The Astros acquired him in February 2013 in the Jed Lowrie trade.

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.