Todd Frazier appears bench-bound following Joey Votto’s return

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With a .294 average, 18 homers and 55 RBI in 313 at-bats, Todd Frazier has been the National League’s best rookie hitter this year. Still, the Reds might struggle to find a role for him after Joey Votto comes off the disabled list, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay reports.

Reds manager Dusty Baker made it clear Wednesday that Scott Rolen will remain his third baseman after Votto reclaims first. Frazier started 51 games at third earlier this year while Rolen was ailing. He’s now started 26 at first base and five in left field.

Putting Frazier back in the outfield following Votto’s return is an option, but it doesn’t sound like Baker sees him as a starter there.

“We played him in the outfield some already. Where is he going to play in the outfield?” Baker said. “Is he a center fielder? We’ve got Jay Bruce, an All-Star, in right field. Is he going to play in front of Jay right now? (Ryan) Ludwick’s got 25 home runs? Is he going to play in front of Ludwick right now?

“Sometimes when you’re on really good team, you’ve got to wait your turn to play.”

Of course, the 26-year-old Frazier has waited his turn. And the fact is that he has 179 points of OPS on Rolen right now. At the very least, the Reds need to make sure he’s out there against lefties on a regular basis. He has a .957 OPS against them, compared to a .740 mark for Bruce.

The Pirates are, not surprisingly, leaning against trading Andrew McCutchen

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Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.

Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.

All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:

That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.

The Brewers are talking to the Tigers about Ian Kinsler, Justin Wilson

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The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.

Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.

Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.

The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.