Cuban defector Leonys Martin left out of Rangers’ center field competition

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The Rangers spent far more than anyone expected to land 23-year-old Cuban defector Leonys Martin last year, signing him for $15.5 million over five years. He was generally impressive in the minors in his U.S. debut, but manager Ron Washington told the Dallas Morning News today that he’s still not close to helping the team:

If my guys stay healthy, my intention is he’ll get a full year in the minors. And my intention is for my guys to stay healthy.

He just needs to play. I hope from this camp he’ll learn how the game is supposed to be played and about being a pro.

That last part may be key. The problem is that Martin has been a pro for a good long time now and probably thinks pretty highly of himself. After all, the Rangers did hand him a $5 million signing bonus last year.

But Martin appears on his way back to Triple-A now, and that’s not a bad thing. After tearing up Texas League pitching to the tune of a 1.007 OPS in 112 at-bats last season, he slipped to .263/.316/.314 in 175 at-bats in Triple-A. He does have some work to do. Still, he’s a greater talent than either Julio Borbon or Craig Gentry, and the Rangers might not be able to keep him in the PCL for long if he shows improvement early on.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.