Reds and Free Agency: Shane Victorino


So the Reds “have interest” in former Phillie and Dodger Shane Victorino. Sorry, but I’ve heard this far too many times to even attempt to count. I know I’m a member of the minority here, but I cannot see how he is a lead-off option. Well, at least one that can be above NL average.

Why do I say that? Simple…

This table represents Shane Victorino‘s career numbers and the spot in the lineup he has occupied during his nine years in baseball.

Last season, NL lead-off guys produced a triple slash of .257/.319/.382. We know how horrendous the Good Guys were at the lineup’s top spot, but for illustrative purposes: .208/.254/.327. So for his career, Victorino is nothing more than average at the lead-off spot. Maybe a little below average.

Sure, it’s better than what production the Reds got from that spot last season, but that’s not saying a whole lot. In fact, that’s saying nothing.

And Victorino couldn’t wear #8 in Cincinnati. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE)

If you take another peek at the above table, you will notice that Victorino is far more productive batting 2nd. For the record, the 2012 NL average for #2 hitters was .269/.327/.397. With Victorino’s numbers hitting at that slot, things become a little more enticing. Now you must ask…

Do the Reds need a #2 guy? I didn’t think that was considered a need.

And it must be noted that 2012 was his worst from an offensive standpoint. He’ll be 32 on the 30th, so you will most likely hear this word: regression. Not sure if 2012 was truly the beginnings of regression or the fact there were so many rumors swirling over his departure from Philly that is had a negative impact on his season. Seems like any time a Philly was named in a potential trade, Victorino’s name appeared.

So now I feel the need to re-visit a “hot topic” from this past season. Paul Daugherty indicated that the Reds nixed a Victorino-for-Logan Ondrusek deal. While many were up in arms over the reported rejection, we don’t know all the details. From what I can tell, the Phillies provided the Dodgers with no cash in the deal. That alone may have been a sticking point, but with Walt, we will never know if it was. Add the fact that the Dodgers had shifted ownership and that group with Magic Johnson on board may have been tilted to show the Dodger faithful they were serious about winning and not lining their collective pockets. They were willing to take on the remainder of Victorino’s salary.

Prior to this past season, Victorino wanted five years. According Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the seven teams interested in Victorino might be willing to go for three years due to his slumping ways over the second half of last season. A snapshot of the other six teams interested in Victorino.

1. Giants – I get this on two levels: left field or center in case Angel Pagan goes elsewhere.
2. Red Sox – Even though they signed Jonny Gomes, the Sawx were decimated with OF injuries last season.
3. Rays – losing B.J. Upton, but do they have the scratch, Evan Longoria‘s extension not withstanding.
4. Rangers – Josh Hamilton seems to have both feet and most of his baggage out the door.
5. Indians – have to admit an outfield of Victorino, Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo isn’t too shabby.
6. Yankees – who aren’t they interested in, plus not too sure about chances of Nick Swisher returning.

Signing Victorino would lead to…

What about Ryan Ludwick? I’ll go out on a limb and say that if the Reds sign Victorino, along with the reported potential deal with Jonathan Broxton, the chances of Ludwick returning to Cincy are substantially lessened.

No Ludwick could mean that Victorino will play left and Drew Stubbs could still man center, much to the chagrin of some of you. Your other option would be Victorino in center with Chris Heisey in right, and that is a legit option.

In this scenario, you have potentially created a new hole: clean-up (that is if you intend to use Victorino at the top of the lineup). Or do you once again ask Brandon Phillips to take on the role? Does Zack Cozart assume the #2 slot? Victorino, Cozart, Votto, BP, Bruce, Frazier, Heisey, Hanigan or have Hanny 7th, Stubbs 8th and remove Heisey? Take you pick…

We know there is a pressing need for a lead-off guy. I’m not 100% sold that Victorino is that guy.

Sure, the Reds could sign him, he comes to town and proves me wrong.

That would be a case where being wrong is a good thing.