All day we’ve been hearing songs about Shane Victorino and the Red Sox possibly getting together; as the day progressed it turned out that the chorus of said songs rang true. Victorino will join the Red Sox for the next three seasons at a robust price of $39 million. A long-term Phillie, Victorino was dealt to the Dodgers just prior to July’s in-season trade deadline and now finds himself with his third organization in a pretty short time period. I guess you can call this as his fourth organization of the last few months if you want to count his postseason broadcasting stint.
Victorino is coming off a particularly rough season at the plate, as he hit a combined .255/.321/.383 with 11 homers and 39 steals in 45 attempts. Victorino has always been a good defender, and he should have no problem dealing with right field in Fenway. He’s also an adept base runner who plays smart and knows how to nab bases at a high success rate, so there are things to like about the 32-year-old even if his bat is entering an ugly decline phase.
Speaking of that nasty decline phase, is that what’s going on with Shane Victorino or was 2012 an aberration? Well, the outfielder enjoyed a truly stellar 2011 (5.9 WAR, .368 wOBA), but he doesn’t seem to be driving the ball with nearly as much authority anymore. A career .338 wOBA hitter, Victorino has always been on the cliff when it comes to providing offensive value. In a way, he’s been perceived a star for the wrong reasons (stolen base totals, hustle) when his true virtues have always been solid fundamentals and glove work. At any rate, Victorino is going post an average or better walk rate, but I feel like we won’t see him reach the heights he did in his best seasons ever again. His approach at the plate weakened last season, and the results are going to get worse as he ages.
Still, Victorino is a good baseball player. He can man any outfield position in a pinch, excel in the corners, and he won’t cost his team on the bases. The big problem here is the bat, as it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that he won’t produce like many teams want their corner outfielders to. Now 32, Victorino is likely to be a 3-WAR player for the foreseeable future before inevitably tailing off more steeply. Is this a good investment for the Red Sox? I don’t think it will hurt them; he should earn his salary based on adequate offensive production and doing the same things afield and on the bases he’s done before. It’s just a mistake to expect him to thrive at the plate like he has in the past. I think the Sox are smart enough to understand they’re paying for things many fans won’t recognize, and as a result this deal looks like a reasonable (if not a bit too expensive) one to keep the current roster competitive with a respectable regular.