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NL Central News and Notes

With the playoffs around the corner, here's the latest from the National League Central.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • The Pirates extended the contract of third baseman David Freese. Freese will receive $6.25 million next year, $4.25 million in 2018, and $6 million or a $500,000 buyout in 2019. Freese originally signed a one-year, $3 million deal this past offseason after waiting for much of the winter. He entered the weekend hitting .273 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI.

  • Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish hit his first major league home run Wednesday night against the Reds. Darvish joins Jake Arrieta, Adam Wainwright, Drew Pomeranz, and Matt Cain as opposing pitchers to homer off Cincinnati this season.

  • FOX Sports took an in-depth look at the Brewers' farm system. While the team is struggling this season, there's reason for optimism for the future, with young major league players like Zach Davies, Jonathan Villar, and Orlando Arcia to pair with a myriad of minor league talent.

  • With the Cubs winning the division a foregone conclusion at this point, the team has shifted its focus to preparing for the playoffs. This involves some added rest for veterans while trying to get players fully healthy for a World Series run. Expanded rosters in September will help the club reduce their workload for the rest of the regular season.

  • Despite being in the thick of a Wild Card race, many believe that St. Louis manager Mike Matheny should be fired. While he's a clear team leader, his in-game baseball decision making has come under scrutiny. For a franchise always looking to contend, it's fair to wonder if there are better alternatives.