Cubs nearing long-term extension with Starlin Castro

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7:00 p.m. EDT update: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal believes a Starlin Castro extension could be announced early next week or sooner. It’d be a six- or seven-year contract with a club option that would buy out an extra year of free agency. As is, Castro will be eligible for FA after 2016.

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David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com has the exclusive:

Two industry sources who have represented several MLB players over the past decade confirmed to me tonight that the Cubs are working on a long term deal for star shortstop Starlin Castro.

The deal, which could be six or more years in length, is expected to be finalized before the end of the 2012 season and would not only buy out the remaining arbitration years that Castro has, but at least two years of free agency which he will reach after the 2016 season.

Castro has battled concentration issues, but the 22-year-old Dominican shortstop is the youngest player in franchise history to top 200 hits in a season (he finished with 207 in 2011) and continues to flash improving power potential. It’s hard to see this as anything but a positive for the rebuilding Northsiders.

Castro is batting .276/.307/.422 with 12 home runs and 58 RBI through 116 games played this season. As it stands currently, he will be eligible for arbitration this winter for the first time in his career.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.