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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Red Sox Are Giving Out 3-Year Deals Worth $39 Million Like They're Going Out Of Style

The Red Sox are certainly enjoying their time in Nashville for MLB's Winter Meetings. A day after they signed Mike Napoli, Boston inked outfielder Shane Victorino to the exact same deal: three years for $39 million.

Whereas the Napoli signing was almost a foregone conclusion that had been talked about for weeks, Victorino at least initially is way more surprising since it felt like they swooped in and got him in the last few days. After playing the bulk of his career with the Phillies (2005-12), he was moved at the trade deadline last season to the Dodgers.

Combined in 154 games last season (101 in Philadelphia, 53 in Los Angeles), Victorino had the worst year of his career: .255/.321 OBP/.383 SLG with 11 homers, 55 RBIs, 39 stolen bases, 29 doubles, seven triples and 72 runs. Coming off that scares me but his history shows that he's a high quality player: two All-Star game appearances (2009 and 2011) plus three Gold Gloves (2008, 2009 and 2010).

The funny thing is that Victorino has been known primarily as a center fielder and lead-off hitter (he hits both ways). Hmmm, what about Jacoby Ellsbury? For now, the Red Sox are saying that Shane will play the tricky right field at Fenway Park but I'll believe it when I see it. Ellsbury is a free agent after this season and since Scott Boras is his agent, most believe there is no chance he returns to Boston. So why not trade him now for something they can use immediately (pitching!)? Plus, it would be beyond dumb to let him walk in free agency, only to receive a draft pick. He is also coming off a brutal season but he was the runner-up to the AL MVP in 2011 plus he's still young so he has a long fruitful career ahead of him.

Like Napoli, Johnny Gomes and David Ross, Victorino is known around baseball as a veteran leader and a winner. Napoli went to the 2011 World Series with Texas but Victorino trumps that with a World Series title in 2008 with Philadelphia and they returned to the Fall Classic the next season but lost to the Yankees. That is something intangible that the Red Sox have been sorely lacking for years. The most important thing is always production on the field but the hope is that these guys can give them plenty of both-leadership and numbers.

Shane just turned 32 and next spring he will enter his 10th year in MLB. That's plenty of mileage (1076 games and 4295 plate appearances) for a guy that plays such a physical style and he's only 5-foot-9 for what that's worth. If he sticks around, Ellsbury could certainly learn from Victorino about durability. The Flyin' Hawaiian (maybe the best nickname in MLB) has played at least 131 games in his seven full seasons.

For his career, he's scored 616 runs, had 1060 hits including 195 doubles, 65 triples, 90 homers and 409 RBIs with 201 stolen bases. He's a .275/.341 OBP/.770 SLG which is very respectable. He is an interesting guy that plays an exciting, hard-nosed style. So long as he returns to his normal level and not something like last season, Red Sox fans should grow to love him in a matter of mere weeks in 2013.

1 comment:

Mike Lefebvre said...

I really like this signing - but my 2 favorites (in order)

Nick Swisher
Cody Ross