The Dodgers have Matt Kemp locked in at center field though and Andre Ethier in right field, and it’s no guarantee that they will want to re-sign Victorino. After all, he will command a contract in free agency that will be around four years for $40-50 million.
The outfield situation for the Phillies is bleak – they traded away Victorino and Hunter Pence in the summer and spent the final several months rotating outfielders like John Mayberry, Jr., Domonic Brown, Juan Pierre, and Ty Wigginton.
Mayberry and Brown will definitely be back since they’re under team control, but it’s no guarantee they will each start separately. A platoon combination of the pair might be ideal, since Mayberry hits lefties well and Brown does his best work against righties.
Another platoon of Pierre (should he re-sign him) and Darin Ruf might work in left field, as it’s cheap and should be reasonably productive.
The Phillies need a center fielder though. The options are wide-open: Josh Hamilton is the big name in free agency, but there are also candidates like B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, and even Victorino hitting the open market.
Upton and Bourn are young enough that the Phillies would probably have to overpay to acquire either of them. They’re familiar with Victorino, considering he spent the previous seven seasons in Philly.
Victorino really dropped off in 2012 though and management would have to decide whether they still think he can be productive in 2013, 2014, 2015, and probably even 2016.
Victorino’s numbers as of late:
2009-2011: 435 G, .277/.347/.454/.800, 113 OPS+
2012 (A): 101 G, .261/.324/.401/.724, 94 OPS+
2012 (B): 53 G, .245/.316/.351/.667, 85 OPS+
It’s too early to tell if 2012 was simply a down year. After all, his OPS from 2009 to 2010 dropped 47 points, and then he picked it up over 100 points to 2011.
Maybe Victorino just needed a change of scenery (although to be fair, he didn’t produce with LA).
But bringing Victorino back to Philly may seem stale – he’s been in the city for most of his major league career, he’s helped deliver a World Series championship, and he’s made two All-Star teams and won three Gold Gloves.
It’s time for the Phillies to look elsewhere. The team wants to get younger, and giving a three to four year deal to a 31-year old coming off his worst pro season doesn’t seem like the ideal move.