The Boston Red Sox continued to spend money like it grows on the trees lining Yawkey Way, as they signed free agent Shane Victorino to a three-year, $39 million contract on Tuesday. The problem for the Red Sox, is that their deal with the veteran outfielder will almost certainly backfire.
The 32-year-old Victorino is coming off a disappointing 2012 season he split between Philadelphia and Los Angeles. He finished the year with a .255 batting average, 11 home runs, 55 RBI, a career-high 80 strikeouts, and an OPS of just .704. His WAR was also a lousy 2.3.
Victorino played like a platoon player for most of 2012, with both the Phillies and the Dodgers. He’s also a switch hitter who doesn’t hit right-handers particularly well. Over the past three season he has a combined slash line of .244/.311/.390 in 1,388 plate appearances against right-handed hurlers. That’s awful for a guy who just got a huge contract.
When the Red Sox moved Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett in the middle of the 2012 season, the biggest benefit they gained was payroll flexibility. They got rid of some bad contracts and made it possible to build up their team again, but this time in a more responsible way. Giving $13 million a year to a 32-year-old on the decline is not the way to capitalize on such a situation.
I mean, they just gave $39 million to a guy who now has the effectiveness of a fourth outfielder thanks to diminishing skills and an inability to hit right-handed pitching consistently.
When Boston signed a 31-year-old John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million free agent deal back in 2009, they overpaid for a hot name after he had already peaked. Instead of getting Lackey in his prime, they missed out and he has been a gigantic bust. This Victorino deal smells the same way that one did back in 2009.
As a person, I love Shane Victorino. He’s a scrappy dude who plays hard and has a great personality. But the Red Sox simply paid way too much for him.