Victorino, who signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox in the offseason, wanted to join a baseball town, which is understandable considering the outfielder spent parts of eight seasons in Philadelphia. Victorino wanted to play for a historically passionate fan base so badly, though, that he was apparently willing to take less money in order to make it happen.
The Indians offered Victorino a four-year deal worth $44 million, according to the New York Daily News. Obviously, that means Victorino is earning a higher average salary in Boston than he would have in Cleveland, but one would think a little extra financial security is enticing for a 32-year-old coming off a down year.
But despite Cleveland’s offer, Victorino packed his bags and headed for Boston, realizing that the passion that surrounds the Red Sox was exactly what he was looking for in an organization.
“It was the fan base that they have [in Boston],” Victorino reportedly said. “I loved playing there as an opposing player. When you come in, you can feel the love they have for their home players. Crowds always into the game. That’s the kind of stuff I love.”
Victorino reportedly talked with the Yankees early in the offseason, as New York was seeking a replacement for Nick Swisher, who eventually signed with the Indians. The Yankees were apparently unwilling to pay as much as the Sox, though, and now The Flyin’ Hawaiian will look to be a thorn in the Bronx Bombers’ side.
“When we played the Mets, they talked about that rivalry, and I’m like, ‘Dude, that’s nothing,'” Victorino reportedly said of his time in Philly. “It was created by the media, created by the fans. And don’t get me wrong, it had a year or two of that adrenaline. But [Yankees/Red Sox] is the biggest rivalry in sports. Not just baseball. Sports. So to be a part of that, yeah, I am very excited. You grow up as a little kid playing in the back yard, that’s the kind of stuff you strive for.”
Victorino also admitted that his looming free agency got to him last season, as he tried desperately to top his strong 2011 campaign. He won’t have that burden this season, however, so Victorino could be in line for better results.