Mets get Báez, Williams from Cubs for outfield prospect

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — The New York Mets acquired flashy shortstop Javier Baez and pitcher Trevor Williams from the Chicago Cubs for outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong.

Baez, a two-time All-Star and 2020 Gold Glove winner, gives the NL East leaders an immediate fill-in for injured buddy Francisco Lindor at shortstop. Lindor is sidelined with a strained oblique and isn’t expected back until at least mid-to-late August.

Baez, who can become a free agent after the season, is batting .248 with 22 home runs and 65 RBIs. He has a .775 OPS and 13 stolen bases in 16 tries, but also leads the National League with 131 strikeouts. He has made 18 errors in 88 games.

When Lindor returns, Baez could move to second base or third.

Williams also is a significant part of the deal for the Mets, who were eager to reinforce a thin starting rotation depleted by injuries. The right-hander is 4-2 with a 5.06 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) this season, his first with the Cubs after spending his first five years in Pittsburgh.

The 29-year-old Williams is eligible for arbitration after this season and can become a free agent following the 2022 season.

The Mets also received cash as part of the deal.

New York began the day with a 3 1/2-game lead in the NL East over Philadelphia, and third-place Atlanta was four back. Both those teams also made moves before Friday’s trade deadline in an effort to upgrade and chase down the Mets.

The 19-year-old Armstrong, a first-round draft pick out of high school last year, is sidelined with a shoulder injury. He is considered an elite defender in center field.

The move was one of several by the Cubs in the days leading up to the deadline. Chicago also traded first baseman Anthony Rizzo and closer Craig Kimbrel.

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.