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.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.