Jonathan Schoop, Tigers agree to 1-year, $4.5M contract

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DETROIT — Second baseman Jonathan Schoop is staying with the Detroit Tigers, agreeing to a $4.5 million, one-year contract.

The 29-year-old hit .278 with eight home runs in the abbreviated 2020 season. He hit at least 21 home runs each of the previous four years.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to rejoin the Tigers for the 2021 season,” Schoop said. “We have a really good group here – we started to build something special last year and are going to take it to the next level in 2021.”

The rebuilding Tigers have stuck largely to short-term deals like this in recent years. Detroit went 23-35 last season.

“Jonathan made a tremendous impression on us last year, and we’re looking forward to having him back with the ballclub for the 2021 season,” general manager Al Avila said. “Not only were we impressed by the on-field results, but also his leadership and relentless desire to be in the lineup day in and day out. It’s hard for a one-year free agent to have a real positive impact on a clubhouse’s culture, but he certainly achieved that last season, and we’re looking forward to that continuing.”

Schoop played exclusively at second base for the Tigers last year, and in 2019 for the Twins. He has, however, played a little bit at shortstop and third base during his career – and he indicated that new Detroit manager AJ Hinch is open to moving him around.

“He and I have already had great conversations about allowing me to showcase my defensive versatility a bit more this year,” Schoop said.

Schoop also has familiarity with Scott Coolbaugh, Detroit’s hitting coach.

“Scott Coolbaugh was my hitting coach in Baltimore during my 2017 All-Star season,” Schoop said. “He is a great hitting coach and communicator, and knows how much damage I can do at the plate.”

Schoop’s deal, announced Friday, includes award bonuses: $250,000 for MVP, $150,000 for second, $100,000 for third and $50,000 for fourth or fifth; $100,000 for World Series MVP; and $50,000 each for League Championship Series MVP, making the All-Star team and earning a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger.

Detroit designated outfielder Travis Demeritte for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Schoop.

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.