The rich get richer: AL-leading Rangers sign Roy Oswalt

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Reports all day have said Roy Oswalt was close to choosing a new team and the Rangers were heavy favorites, and now Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas has indeed signed the 34-year-old free agent.

Fraley quotes “an individual familiar with the process” as saying it’s a done deal.

Oswalt has been linked to the Rangers, Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Orioles, and Red Sox, but Texas gives him the best possible combination of a sure-fire contender, a locale close to his Mississippi home, and (presumably) the most money.

Oswalt gained leverage in recent days with Roy Halladay and Ted Lilly landing on the disabled list with shoulder injuries, and if he’s indeed signing with the Rangers he’ll step into the rotation spot created by Neftali Feliz’s sprained elbow. It’s unclear how much time Oswalt will need to be game-ready, but Feliz is expected to miss the remainder of the first half and could shift back to the bullpen once healthy.

For now Scott Feldman is filling in for Feliz, but Oswalt threw 139 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 93/33 K/BB ratio for the Phillies last season and if he can avoid a recurrence of back problems would be a major upgrade over Feldman.

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com confirms Fraley’s initial report and says Oswalt’s deal is worth between $5 million and $6 million.

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.