Todd Frazier, Josh Thole

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.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.