Red Sox agree on 3-year deal with Shane Victorino

By Scott Lauber
Tuesday, December 4, 2012 –

 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Shane Victorino is in Maui, where he is hosting a charity golf tournament this weekend.

And today, he got a new job.

Victorino has agreed in principle on a three-year, $39 million contract to play right field for the Red Sox according to an industry source with knowledge of the negotiations. The deal is still pending a physical exam, which likely won’t happen until next week.

The Red Sox expressed interest in Victorino last month, and over the past few days he emerged as their top right field candidate, primarily because of his defense. By today, the 32-year-old switch-hitter had narrowed his options to the Sox and Cleveland Indians. And although the Indians made a four-year offer (FoxSports.com reported its value at $44 million), Victorino chose the Red Sox.

“Boston is in the lead position,” the source said earlier this evening, “and it’s not all monetary, to tell you the truth.”

The outfield market has taken shape quickly during these winter meetings, with the San Francisco Giants’ four-year, $40 million deal yesterday with Angel Pagan helping to set the price for Victorino, according to the source.

Victorino was a centerpiece of the Philadelphia Phillies teams that won the World Series in 2008 and lost to the New York Yankees in 2009. In theory, he will bring balance to a Red Sox lineup that is loaded with right-handed hitters. But he always has been a better hitter from the right side (.301 average, .373 on-base percentage) than the left (.267, .330). Defensively, Victorino is a three-time Gold Glove winner in center field with the arm strength to play right. And although the Red Sox signed below-average defender Jonny Gomes to play left field, they’ve placed a priority on defense in right.

“In our ballpark, we’d like to have someone who’s played a lot of center in right field, if we can,” said GM Ben Cherington, unable to discuss Victorino specifically because the deal hasn’t been finalized. “There’s guys out there that have done both. If you play a lot of center field and play in different parks, there may be a little bit of an adjustment, but he can figure out right field at Fenway.”

Meanwhile, a three-year deal for Victorino figures to give the Red Sox flexibility beyond the 2013 season. If Jacoby Ellsbury leaves via free agency, Victorino could slide to center field in 2014. He also could be an adequate bridge to prospects Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz, both of whom are expected to be ready for the majors late in the 2013 season or by 2014.

Cherington said the Red Sox may be in the market to sign another outfielder, but the Victorino deal would seem to close the door on a return for Cody Ross, who remains unsigned while seeking a three-year contract.

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