The Philadelphia Phillies will likely trade center fielder Shane Victorino before the July 31 deadline, as Victorino’s three-year contract with the team expires after the season and he’s been the subject of trade rumors for quite some time.
Victorino is underachieving in his contract year, as he has just a .242/.308/.364 statline and a career-worst .672 OPS. But he does have eight home runs and 19 stolen bases which means he is a 20-20 threat, and he plays phenomenal defense in center field. That’s worth taking a risk on for a contending team in the need of a good center fielder.
The Cincinnati Reds have right field set with Jay Bruce, a two-time All-Star who is one of the franchise’s top young players. Ryan Ludwick is playing ok in left field on a one-year deal (12 HR, .486 SLG), but Drew Stubbs has been awful in center field.
Stubbs is hitting just .212 with a .643 OPS; he strikes out a ridiculous amount and Victorino would be a huge upgrade. The Reds are 48-38 and still in first place in the NL Central (tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates). Trading for Victorino may give them a five-tool player who can contribute down the stretch for a contender.
New York Mets
This would be awkward seeing Victorino playing regularly for a division rival, but the truth is that they could desperately use a center fielder.
Andres Torres has vastly underperformed in 2012. He’s hitting .205 with a .612 OPS that ranks 111th out of 117 players with at least 200 plate appearances this season. Last season, Torres wasn’t much better, posting a .643 OPS in nearly 400 trips to the plate, so it’s highly unlikely he will turn it around.
Scott Hairston has played well after taking over in left field, although Lucas Duda is an underachieving right fielder. Victorino’s presence would really help this team, as he would be a veteran mentor to some of the younger players.
The Cleveland Indians have managed to remain over .500 as late as the All-Star break but their outfielder corps could use an upgrade.
Shelley Duncan and Michael Brantley are merely adequate in left and center field, so adding Victorino would give them an instant upgrade.
Toronto Blue Jays
This makes the most sense. The Toronto Blue Jays play in the toughest division in the league and they’ve managed to hang around at .500 until now. Adding Victorino would allow them to move Colby Rasmus to left field and sit Rajai Davis (.689 OPS).
With the addition of Victorino, the Jays would then have Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie. This would make them a much-improved team that could fight for a wild card spot in the AL.
Sandwiching Victorino in center field between Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton would give the Miami Marlins a very solid group of outfielders.
Right now, Emilio Bonifacio, Chris Coghlan, and Justin Ruggiano have manned the center field position. Bonifacio is hitting just .263 with no home runs, Coghlan is atrocious at .140, and while Ruggiano has been tearing it up (.388/.459/.741 in 100 plate appearances), I don’t know if he can keep it up.
Victorino would make the Marlins a contender in the NL East.