The contract was a head-scratcher back in December, and it still is now.
The Boston Red Sox signed Shane Victorino to a three-year contract for $39 million, with Victorino coming off of his worst season in the major leagues.
Victorino is a decent player, but I was disappointed with the contract. It seemed like a reach at the time, before the market for outfielders had even been established.
It retrospect, it still seems like an extreme overpay by the Red Sox to solidify their outfield. The signing can be viewed as an obvious attempt to avoid signing the type of player who would cost the Red Sox a draft pick in this June’s draft.
The only way it made sense was if the Red Sox had a trade for Jacoby Ellsbury lined up for a starting pitcher. But, no Ellsbury trade happened and the Red Sox have come to camp with both Victorino and Ellsbury on the roster.
To avoid giving up the draft pick, the Boston gave Victorino additional years and millions that could have been better spent on the pitching staff.
It also speaks to how the Red Sox are suddenly viewed around baseball. Players won’t go to Boston unless the money is better than average. The Victorino signing was made all of the worse when Cody Ross ended up signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks for three-years, but for considerably less money at $26 million.
Is Victorino a better player than Ross? Not based on what both players showed in 2012, making the reluctance to go three seasons with Ross even the more confusing.
Coming into spring training, Victorino is the Red Sox newest addition with the most to prove. He will likely take over center field, if and when Ellsbury leaves at the end of the season. If Victorino can rebound to his 2011 form, when he posted a 5.2 WAR and was the Philadelphia Phillies‘ best outfielder, then the Red Sox might be on to something.
The Boston’s 2013 outfield figures to be very different to start the season. Ellsbury and Victorino won’t be the classic heavy hitting outfielders, but both have shown flashes of occasional pop. They will need to combine their defense, speed and ability to make contact to impact games. Jonny Gomes figures to get the bulk of the at-bats to start the season and see if he can earn the left field job.
Victorino does give the Red Sox some flexibility with their roster and protects them from having to rush prospects like Jackie Bradley Jr. or Bryce Brentz to the majors this spring.
But, $39 million is pretty expensive for an insurance policy, even for the Red Sox.
You can reach Jonathan Cullen:
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Writing about the Boston Red Sox at www.baseballslate.com