In war, there is no substitute for Victorino

Hunter Golden proclaims: Victorino at all costs, Victorino in spite of all terror, Victorino however long and hard the road may be; for without Victorino, there is no survival.

Shane VictorinoI have to admit that I’m pretty surprised by the generally negative reaction that the Shane Victorino deal has received amongst members of the national news media and some of the more hardcore members of the Red Sox fan base. While in a vacuum this deal should raise some eyebrows, when you consider the big picture –particularly from the perspective of the Red Sox- this contract is pretty reasonable.

On the surface, there’s some reason to be optimistic that Victorino is still a good player. He was saddled with a poor .278 BABIP last season – well below his career average of .296. With his skills mostly appearing to be in tact or regressing minimally, it’s not altogether unthinkable to think that he might be a solid bounce-back candidate next year. In fact, if he can just duplicate last year’s performance, he’d actually be living up to almost half of his current contract in year-1.

Even if we were to paint a portrait of substantial regression over the next three seasons, it’s going to be hard for Victorino to NOT live up to the money he’s getting paid. Going market rate so far this offseason has come in around $6 million dollars per 1 fWAR. Using that math relative to the contract, the Red Sox are expecting him to accumulate 6.5 fWAR in the coming years given the current market.

For conversation’s sake, let’s say Victorino regresses hard over the course of the next three years. Let’s apply an aggressive rate of about .7 fWAR regression every season. Here’s what it’d look like:

2013: 2.6
2014: 1.9
2015: 1.2

That would come out to exactly 5.7 fWAR over the duration of the contract, short of what the Red Sox are actually paying for, but not to an egregious degree. Yes, the additional $5 million is an overpay in a vacuum, but when you consider the ancillary benefits of the deal itself, the $5 million seems like more of an expensive insurance policy than it does a ‘get the guy we want’ gesture on the part of GM Ben Cherington and the rest of the Red Sox brass.

One of those benefits is that Victorino will be stepping into RF in Fenway Park, one of the more valuable defensive positions for the Red Sox. Having someone who can not only handle the position, but also help in CF, gives them plenty of versatility and a strong defensive grouping on the right side of the diamond – something that’ll be needed due to the limitations of recently-acquired Mike Napoli at 1B. Long story, short – the defensive value specific to the Red Sox has to be taken into account here. Not only will they be willing to pay more for a RFer than most, they’re justified in doing so.

Then of course, there are the looming Jacoby Ellsbury contract negotiations, of which Victorino’s signing will certainly impact significantly. In fact, you could argue that the leverage that his presence creates could provide the Red Sox with a decent cost-saving opportunity in a hypothetical extension. Simply put, with Victorino on the roster, the Red Sox wont’ have to play hardball with Scott Boras on anything other than their own terms. It also means that prospects like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz won’t have to get pushed at a pace they’re not ready for. There’s something to be said for impacting the value of multiple players around you. That, too – adds up. In the case of impacting the Ellsbury negotiations, it could REALLY add up.

So when you take into account the premium positional value and the value impact he could have on the players around him, the $5 million seems more like money well spent, not wasted. And that’s not even getting into the idea of laying it up against the market backdrop of a 37 year old Marco Scutaro getting a 3 year deal or a PED-infused Melky Cabrera getting 2. In fact, with revenues exploding throughout baseball and revenue streams flowing faster than ever before, I’d hedge my bets that this deal looks a lot more appetizing compared to most once the dust has settled on the 2013 offseason.

Categories: Bryce Brentz Jackie Bradley Jacoby Ellsbury Marco Scutaro Melky Cabrera Mike Napoli Shane Victorino

A world-class baseball nerd, baseball fan, and baseball man, Hunter Golden agreed to terms with Fire Brand of the American League in September of 2012 in exchange for an oversized baby bottle, football helmet filled with cottage cheese and naked pictures of Bea Arthur. In January of 2013, he was named Editor. He likes run-on sentences, enjoys over-using hyphens, and smelling books. When it comes to serious stuff, Hunter is a professional writer (no, really), father of two, Husband of one and whose natural habitat is Western Massachusetts and agreeable parts of Connecticut. Follow him at @hunterGbaseball on Twitter or shoot him an email at [email protected]

4 Responses to “In war, there is no substitute for Victorino” Subscribe

  1. Daniel Poarch December 5, 2012 at 12:50 PM #

    The title/subtitle of this one win the Internet for the day. Congratulations, Hunter!

  2. Matt B December 6, 2012 at 12:44 PM #

    I agree wholeheartedly. I don't understand the intense dislike when you look at the money someone years older than him in Torii Hunter still getting paid, despite it being a one year deal. I think having the fall back option of Victorino in case Ellsbury leaves can almost not be graded, as while all Red Sox fans alike are salivating for Jackie Bradley, a couple years in the wings for a high profile player in Center Field may be needed. No need to rush him.
    Also, despite getting a bit of guff from my out of Boston fandom friends, I do think a player with Victorino's attitude is much needed in this environment after Boston has been dogged for the past few years with such soured players.

    • gerry December 6, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

      Good signing within a smart strategy:
      1. Create a positive environment for young players and finally shut up the self-righteous media with a non-toxic, high energy clubhouse by adding Victorino, Gomes, Ross, Napoli.
      2. Improve the actual offense of Gonzo, CC, Cody and Ells with Gomes, Victorino, Napoli and, well, a healthy Ells; & the defense of a healthy Ells and Reddick with, again, a healthy Ells and Victorino.
      3. Shut down the runnimg game and replace Tek as mentor with D.Ross and Napoli.
      4. Add a top end bullpen insurance arm in Uehara
      4. Make room for the next wave of kids.
      5. Spend under the cap for two years.

      IMO this is already a much better team than 2011 and 2012, and with a brighter future. Now for a solid SP.as we anticipate the arrivals of DLR, Webster, Wright, Hernandez, Barnes. Boy will that change everything.

  3. El Guapo's Ghost December 9, 2012 at 12:39 PM #

    Did you adjust Victorino's WAR since he will be playing RF for the Red Sox? Even though RF at Fenway warrants a premium defensive player, he should still be judged against his RF peers not CF. In theory, this would reduce his WAR and shed a different light on this signing. Also, let's not assume that Victorino will be playing CF 14-15. His measured D slipped last year. His skills will likely continue to decline as he ages. Victorino probably is not a full time CF in 14-15 when the Sox could need him. This was a bad signing. He is a platoon outfielder. Those guys do not warrant three year deals.