Indians and Michael Brantley agree to four-year, $25 million extension

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UPDATE: The deal is done. According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Brantley will make $25 million over four years while the contract includes an $11 million option for 2018.

8:13 p.m. ET: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Indians and outfielder Michael Brantley are close to agreeing on a long-term contract extension. It’s believed to be a four-year deal with an option for a fifth season.

Contract talks have evidently accelerated since Brantley and the Indians exchanged arbitration figures last month. The 26-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so a four-year deal with an option would buy out at least one year of free agency.

Brantley has established himself as a solid regular in the Indians’ lineup over the past two seasons, compiling a .286/.340/.399 batting line. He posted new career-highs in home runs, RBI, and stolen bases last year.

Corey Knebel sets modern record for consecutive appearances with a strikeout

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Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.

Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.

Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.