Red Sox 25 in 25: Shane Victorino


2014 Recap:

Shane Victorino, the former Phillies’ jack-of-all-trades outfielder, came to Boston by way of free agency in the 2012-13 offseason. In a quest to pad their vacancy in right field, the Red Sox signed Victorino to a 3 year/$39M contract, a deal which flummoxed many a fan and baseball pundit. Victorino was coming off a disappointing 2012 season, which saw his production drop to .255/.321/.383 in 154 games between the Phillies and Dodgers, meriting some concern over his future with the Red Sox.

However, in the first year of his tenure in Boston, the Victorino deal paid off in a big way. Victorino had one of the best seasons of his career, slashing .294/.351/.451 while adding a Gold Glove in right field and two postseason grand slams en route to a World Series title.

Unfortunately, Victorino came crashing back to earth last season. While he had dealt with some injuries in 2013, missing 40 games, that missed time was overshadowed by his phenomenal on-field performance. In 2014, however, those injuries took a significantly greater toll.

Victorino missed the first month of the season, then took two more trips to the disabled list before going down for the season with back surgery in early August. Ultimately, he played in just 30 games for the Red Sox and, even when playing, he was disappointing as his slash line dipped to just .268/.303/.382, a far cry from his 2013 totals.

2015 Outlook:

With such a great gap between his performances in 2013 and 2014, Victorino is one of the tougher players to peg on the 2015 roster.

He has reportedly recovered from his surgery and is feeling ready to go. However, even if Victorino is fully healthy, there’s just not an obvious place to put him in the lineup. Either Rusney Castillo or Mookie Betts will be the starting right fielder for the Red Sox and both will play a larger role in the team’s future than Victorino, plus at the respective stages of their careers, both are likely better players than Victorino right now.

In a best case scenario, Victorino would represent an elite fourth outfielder. However, Victorino has spoken out against a bench role, stating that he expects to be the starting right fielder for the Red Sox and that just is not be feasible for Boston.

There is a real possibility that Victorino will be traded in spring training, if he proves that he is fully healthy, as the Red Sox have too many outfielders on their roster right now. The Red Sox will likely have to part with one of Victorino, Allen Craig, or Daniel Nava and, given the short-term commitment and recent history of excellent performance, teams may be more willing to bite on Victorino than on the others.

He would be an excellent fourth outfielder, but having a player of his caliber in a bench role is more of a necessity than it is a luxury and Victorino will be one of the more interesting names to watch come spring training.

This post marks the end of our “Red Sox 25 in 25” series, so thanks for following and be sure to stay tuned for spring training coverage at BoSox Injection!