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Justin Verlander bids goodbye to Tigers on Instagram

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On Thursday, Justin Verlander officially said goodbye to a 13-year career with the Tigers. The trade, made in the eleventh hour prior to the August 31 deadline, appears to be a prudent one for both the Tigers and Astros, but it understandably elicited some emotion from the right-hander. “Last night, I was given 45 minutes to make the hardest decision of my life,” Verlander told his Instagram followers in a thank-you video recorded Friday afternoon.

“Firstly, I want to thank everyone here in Detroit, from the front office to all of my teammates, and especially the fans,” Verlander said. “The way you guys have treated me over the last 12 years has been so special to me. Going all the way back to 2006, when this city was in turmoil, I remember the way everybody rallied around our team going to the World Series that year, what it meant to the city, and what a special time [it was] in my life.”

Despite all the warm and friendly feelings toward his former team, the righty doesn’t appear reluctant to hitch his wagon to a contender, even one that’s seen more than its share of struggles on and off the field this summer. “I’m excited to go to Houston,” he continued. “It’s another city in turmoil right now, as everybody knows. I’m excited to give the city something to rally around, something to cheer for and root for, and hopefully we can bring a championship to Houston.”

In the caption to his video, Verlander announced that he would continue to work with the city of Detroit through his foundation, Wins for Warriors, and expand to Houston “effective immediately” in order to aid the relief efforts centered around Hurricane Harvey.

His full video is below:

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.