The Red Sox have continued their free-spending Winter Meetings today by coming to terms on a 3 year/$38 million contract with Shane Victorino. Although the Red Sox weren’t rumored to be big players in the Victorino sweepstakes, that didn’t stop them from doling out big money to sign the 32 year old outfielder. A lifelong center fielder, Victorino will probably shift to right field with Jacoby Ellsbury in center for 2013. However, should the Red Sox trade Ellsbury to lose him to free agency (which appears all but certain), there’s a good chance that the “flyin’ Hawaiian” would move back to center.
Victorino’s normally solid numbers took a big hit in 2012 as he batted just .255/.321/.383 in 154 games between the Phillies and Dodgers. Throughout his career, he’s been a very good player, however, with a career slash line of .275/.341/.430 primarily with the Phillies. He also has averaged 30 stolen bases, 14 home runs, and 62 RBIs every 162 games through his entire career.
Besides his decent offensive capability, Victorino is an excellent fielder. In Fenway Park’s spacious right field, having a guy with great range and a strong arm is a huge benefit. In fact, Victorino has recorded a higher UZR/150 (19.5) in right field than in any other outfield position.
The Red Sox did overpay to get Victorino, but with their wide-open payroll, they can afford it. This deal does merit a bit of concern, however. Victorino has always been better against southpaws than righties, but in 2012 he only batted .230/.295/.332 against righties. His career splits against righties, .267/.330/.402, are probably closer to the truth though. Plus, as much as Victorino struggles against righties, he slams lefties– batting .323/.388/.518 in 2012 and .301/.373/.508 in his career.
I’m not overly enthralled by this signing. However, I’m certainly not upset with it either. There’s no getting around the fact that they did overpay by a potentially wide margin. However, there’s also no getting around the fact that Victorino has potential to be an elite outfielder like he was as recently as 2011. Perhaps most importantly, this move might fill (with the potential exception of shortstop) all holes in the Red Sox’ lineup. It’s nice to see Ben Cherington getting the job done during the Winter Meetings, now here’s to a bit of pitching!