The Boston Red Sox decided to give a three-year deal worth $39M to free agent Shane Victorino to become their starting right fielder but Victorino comes with a lot of red flags that may end up making this deal a loss for the Sox.
Victorino will be playing in his age 32-35 seasons and, like Angel Pagan, a lot of his value is tied up in his speed which fades faster than most skills as a player ages.
Victorino’s speed has helped him add 38.8 runs of value to his game over his career and it has been the main reason he has been so valuable in the field with a career 38.3 UZR.
But as he ages we can expect the value from his speed to decrease. Moving him to right field is a good idea, especially with the extra ground to cover in Fenway, and Victorino has enough arm for the position.
Victorino’s bat comes with some major question marks as he had his worst offensive season at the plate in his career, posting a 94 wRC+ and slugging a career low .383. His ISO of .128 tied his career worst mark.
Keith Law points out that Victorino has been horrible from the left side of the plate with a .244/.311/.390 line over the past three seasons and the loss of power is not a good thing with the right field gaps being so spacious.
On the plus side, Victorino was a bit unlucky with a low BABIP last season and, despite the poor offensive outcome, he was still worth 3.3 fWAR and that includes playing over 30% of his defensive innings in a corner outfield spot. If he can be worth an average of 3 fWAR each season of this deal it becomes a fair deal.
But the likelihood of Victorino being worth near 9 fWAR over the course of this contract, as he reaches his mid-30s, is low and makes this a bit of a gamble for the Red Sox. Victorino’s loss in power looks real and we cannot expect his speed to keep up as he reaches his age 35 season. At best this looks like a fair market value deal with the chance that it ends up being a loss for the Sox.