Red Sox & Victorino Issues


Shane Victorino hit the grand slam over the Green Monster against the Detroit Tigers, making himself a hero and sending the Boston Red Sox to the World Series in 2013, which they later won. Cue the plaguing injuries and you have a disappointing 2014. Sadly for Victorino, not much is likely going to change in 2015.

The native of Hawaii has a number of major stumbling blocks from starting in the outfield for the Red Sox. The injuries are only part of the problem. His 34-year-old body has racked up a pile of bumps and bruises, to the point where he stopped being a switch hitter for his last 30 games. There are no guarantees that he will be able to hit both ways in next year’s training camp at the same level as he once did, making his advantage over anyone taking his hitting spot mute.

Red Sox executive vice president and general manager Ben Cherington has also made it clear that Victorino will not be getting the benefit of the doubt, after signing, calling up, and trading for a number of new outfielders.

Mookie Betts and Brock Holt proved that they can be impact players for the future of the Red Sox. Betts, in particular, was a solid defensive presence in the outfield last season. NESN’s Ricky Doyle reported Boston’s manager John Farrell saying, “in times that [Betts has] been in center field, there’s been real and tangible improvements each of those stints that he’s been with us.” Betts’s youth and decent bat may also be deciding factors against Victorino’s aging body. In 52 games, Betts hit .291, with a .368 on-base percentage, five home runs, and seven stolen bases. Cherington may overlook his 31 strikeouts, instead of worrying if Victorino will get hurt again.

That is, assuming there is still a spot left in the outfield. Between home run derby king Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, newly-acquired Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, and a host of other players, Victorino’s four Gold Glove Awards may not mean much. Rumors have spread that some of these names may be gone by spring training in trades for top-notch pitchers, both starters and in the bullpen; however, the sheer number of talented bats, who can also play very well in the outfield, make it unlikely that the Red Sox would want to deal them if they could still keep them.

Victorino is only signed until the end of the 2015 season. Under all of these circumstances, you would think that the Red Sox would be trying to shop him around to other teams, before he became a free agent in 2016. The issue lays with his previous contract, which brought him to Boston in the first place. Victorino signed for three years and $39 million, which means another team would have to eat $13 million of his contract with the possibility that he may not stay healthy to play.

Whether Victorino belongs to the Red Sox or another team, the Boston brass may have to pay part or all of a contract to a player who will not play for them next season. Even if he is healthy, Victorino may have to look at Fenway Park’s green grass from the outside. A terrible 2014 may only be the beginning of another sad campaign near the end of a great career.