Shane Victorino softens stance on demand for five-year deal

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One day after saying he wanted a five-year contract extension from the Phillies free agent-to-be Shane Victorino backtracked a bit, telling Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer: “I made it seem like I want a five-year deal, but I’d love to stay.”

Most of all, Victorino said, he’d like to get a new contract figured out “now rather than later” and “that’s what the basis of this whole thing is.”

Jimmy Rollins talked about wanting a five-year deal from the Phillies before eventually accepting a three-year, $38 million offer and based on Victorino’s comments it wouldn’t be shocking to see him do something similar. Of course, Victorino is two years younger than Rollins and has also gotten better with age, whereas the shortstop peaked in his late-20s like most players.

Victorino revealed that his agent has yet to engage in formal negotiations with the Phillies, but “is going to reach out to them” soon in the hopes of getting something done before Opening Day. He noted Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand as comparable center fielders who signed five-year deals, with Hunter getting $90 million from the Angels and Rowand getting $60 million from the Giants.

Among all center fielders during the past three seasons Victorino ranked sixth in OPS (right behind Hunter) and fifth in Wins Above Replacement (right ahead of Hunter). Because the Phillies have so many other star players Victorino has probably been somewhat underrated, although that doesn’t necessarily mean signing him to a five-year deal that runs through his age-36 season would be a smart move.

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.