The Pirates sign David Freese to a two-year extension

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed 3B/1B David Freese to a two-year contract extension with a club option for 2019. No word yet on the financials.

Freese is not exactly someone you’d expect to get a multi-year deal in the middle of a dang season. He has been a solid if unspectacular corner bat the past few years and has proven to be a nice offseason pickup for the Pirates on a one-year, $3 million deal, hitting .276/.355/.437 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI in 107 games. Still, players like him tend to have to go out on the market each winter and don’t get multi-year contracts as often as they did a decade ago. This could be a very good deal for both parties depending on the terms, but its very existence is something of an unexpected gift of job security for a veteran player.

Of course the Pirates have some uncertainty in their infield, with Jung Ho Kang on the disabled list and under a legal cloud, so signing Freese is as much insurance policy as anything else.

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.