Shane Victorino could have walked off the duck boat and into the sunset, and Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington would have had no complaints about his investment.
Victorino played in just 63 games over the last two seasons with Boston before the Red Sox traded the veteran outfielder Monday to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for infielder Josh Rutledge. Asked how he now views the three-year, $39 million contract Victorino signed before the 2013 season, all things considered, Cherington offered a simple and honest response.
“My opinion is that we wouldn’t have won the World Series without him in 2013,” Cherington said in a conference call with reporters. “The DL time got in the way of him making the same kind of contribution the last two years, unfortunately. But I think just what he did in 2013 makes us feel, anyway, like it was a worthwhile deal.
“We can dice up the contract and values and all that, but when I think about him, I think about a guy who is maybe one of the more passionate baseball players I’ve ever been around, who played with incredible grit and is a tough, smart player. We wish him well, but I also think what he did and what he’s about likely stays with several guys who are still in our clubhouse.”
Victorino sure left his mark in 2013. He hit .294 with 15 home runs, 61 RBIs and an .801 OPS, all while playing Gold Glove defense in Fenway Park’s difficult right field. His 6.0 WAR, according to FanGraphs, was tops on the Red Sox, just ahead of Jacoby Ellsbury’s 5.7 WAR and Dustin Pedroia’s 5.2 mark.
And that was just the regular season. Victorino, of course, provided two of the Red Sox’s biggest hits amid their run to World Series glory. He launched a game-winning grand slam against the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the ALCS and then delivered a three-run double against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 — the clincher — of the Fall Classic at Fenway.
“We have a lot of guys who meant a lot to that (2013) team,” Cherington said Monday. “And there’s probably several guys I could say, ‘We wouldn’t have won the World Series without this guy.’ But I would certainly include Shane in that group of players.”
This probably wasn’t how Victorino or the Red Sox envisioned their breakup happening. The 34-year-old has been hampered by various injuries each of the last two seasons. He hit .245 with a homer, four RBIs and a .622 OPS in 106 plate appearances over 33 games this season before Monday’s deal.
But the Red Sox and the city of Boston always will have 2013. And that’s good enough for many, including Cherington.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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