On Saturday afternoon, Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago threw out an interesting name into the discussion as a potential centerfielder for the Chicago Cubs in 2013: Shane Victorino.
Victorino is a member of one of the deeper positions in free agency this winter, in an overall thin free agent class. He was acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline, as part of their massive playoff push that ultimately failed.
The 2012 season was not kind to the Flyin’ Hawaiian. He did set a new career-high for stolen bases, but was marred by inconsistency, finishing with a .255 average, the worst in his career.
The Cubs are in dire need of a centerfielder. There are a few names that would be worthwhile out on the free agent market, and almost no one that is reportedly available this winter looks to be a solution for the long-term (outside of perhaps B.J. Upton). This Victorino connection is one that makes little sense.
First of all, his price tag is going to be high. Despite the fact that he’s coming off of a down year, the thin market will allow almost every free agent to squeeze more money than he’s worth out of almost every team. He’ll also be 32 before next season begins.
I like Victorino. He hits from both sides of the plate, hits lefties particularly well, steals bases, and has been a Gold Glove outfielder twice in his career. But would he really be a fit with this Cubs team? Perhaps the bigger question is whether or not he’d even want to join a team already throwing away their season.
On paper, Victorino would make sense. But ultimately, it will probably be a team like the Philadelphia Phillies or Detroit Tigers that signs Victorino. He’ll likely want to sign with a contender, and either of those teams will shell the money out to get him.