After shedding millions of dollars in bad contracts last season, the Boston Red Sox Tuesday surprised a lot of people by signing Shane Victorino to a three-year contract for a reported total of $38 million (via Boston.com).
The 31-year-old outfielder is expected to be the Opening Day right fielder for the Red Sox and could spell center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury when needed.
Grabbing someone with the ability to steal over 30 bases a year and has Gold Glove defensive ability really is not the worst thing the Sox could have done, but signing someone who cannot consistently hit left-handed pitching and teaching him to play right field for three years is another matter.
In essence, they gave Torii Hunter money for a player that is a bit faster, but has less power.
For all the talk of fiscal prudence, Victorino becomes the second player in as many days to get around $13 million per year.
While that seems to be the going rate for mid-level players this offseason, it does make you wonder why the Red Sox would spend that much money to fill that hole in right field when they have prospects in their farm system. Maybe the speculation of trading Ellsbury is true and Shane was actually brought into play center field, his natural position.
Like Mike Napoli, the other big contract signed so far during the Winter Meetings, Victorino did not have a great season during the last year of his contract.
Stealing a career high 39 bases between time with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers, Victorino actually had a career low batting average of .255 and an OPS+ of 91. An average MLB hitter should have an OPS+ of 100.
Victorino also struck out a career high 80 times.
When he plays well, he can hit for his speed. Twice, he led the National League in triples and has hit more than 10 three times in his career. If he can find the gap in Fenway’s spacious right center and that 420-foot triangle in dead center, he could get back into double-digits in triples again.
As with some of the other signings so far this offseason, the big question is the length of the deal. Boston basically had a “get out of jail free” card after dumping salary onto the Dodgers.
In an upcoming season that really doesn't look like they're going to be in the playoff hunt, was this the right player to spend money on?
*Statistics via Baseball Reference.