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It’s official: Ryan Braun will move back to left field

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Brewers manager Craig Counsell confirmed Sunday what many assumed when Khris Davis was traded February 12 to the Athletics: Ryan Braun will move back to left field this season in Milwaukee, with 23-year-old prospect Domingo Santana taking over in right.

Braun was the Brewers’ regular left fielder from 2008-2013, but he moved to right field in 2014 to clear a spot for the defensively-challenged Davis. Santana has a very strong arm and Braun is coming off back surgery, so the return to left makes all the sense in the world.

Milwaukee acquired Santana from the Astros in last year’s Carlos Gomez trade. The hope is he can be a big part of the club’s rolling rebuild.

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.