March 1, 2012

Shane Victorino's Contract

According to MLB Trade Rumors, Phillies’ Center Fielder Shane Victorino is looking for a five year contract.  However, Shane reportedly said he’s willing to accept a hometown discount to remain in red pinstripes.  MLB Trade Rumors listed Torii Hunter, JD Drew, and Aaron Rowand as possible comps for a deal to be brokered, so I thought I’d take a look at those deals to see what Shane might be able to receive for his services between 2013 and 2017.

Torii Hunter signed a 5-year, $90M deal with the Angels following the 2007 season, in which he triple slashed .287/.334/.505, while (possibly due to UZR fluctuations) putting up a negative defensive value and accumulating 3.4 WAR.  JD Drew (I almost feel like he isn’t worthy of even my lowly blog) signed a 5-year, $70M deal with the Red Sox shortly before Spring Training in 2007 (.283/.393/.498, 4.4 WAR in 2006).  Finally, Aaron Rowand, of face-planting fame (whose Phillies lore may cancel out my mention of douche personified in the previous sentence), inked a 5-year $60M deal with the Giants after his superb 2007 season with your Philadelphia Phillies (.309/.374/.515, 6.0 WAR).

If those three players are comps, it seems like the Phillies should be cautious with the Flyin’ Hawaiian, as none of those three players has been anywhere close to their expected contributions.  According to FanGraphs player value based on WAR, Drew was worth $56.7M over his five years (A $13.3M overpay).  Through his first four years, Hunter was worth $54.7M (a $17.3M overpay). Finally, Rowand was worth just $22.6M through his first four years, and since he was DFA’d last year, he’s now getting paid to not play for the Giants in his fifth year (a $37.4M overpay).

While I was comparing the deals, I thought I might compare the three years immediately preceding the deals they signed:

So it looks like Victorino is in the middle of Rowand and Drew.  A couple things stuck out to me from that graph.  One, how the hell did Torii Hunter get a $90M contract after three years averaging 2.8 WAR?  That’s closer to average Major Leaguer than it is to 90-Million-Dollar-Man.  Also, JD Drew was worth more than the other three in the fewest number of games, and it wasn’t even really close.

So anyways, it seems like the Torii Hunter contract was a huge overpay from the beginning, so I don’t think that’s a fair comparison.  However, placing Shane in between the two contracts given to Drew and Rowand, and roughly assuming the hometown discount will cancel out the inflation in the past four years, you come up with a 5-year, $65M deal.  In order for that deal to be market value, assuming 5% inflation and regular aging, Victorino’s 2013 and beyond might look like this:

 I think 3.5 WAR is a conservative assessment, based on Shane’s above average marks in all facets of the game (offense, defense, baserunning).  However, seeing the fate of recent Center Fielder contracts, I am still wary.  If the Phillies could get something closer to 5yr/$50M, then it’s a slam dunk, but 5yr/$65M seems more like market value than a hometown discount.  If that’s what Shane’s expecting, I would advise Ruben Amaro Jr. to let him walk, the same way Pat Gillick let Rowand walk in 2007.


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