Mentioned it in the recaps but it deserves mention again: Shane Victorino went 3 for 3 with two home runs and seven RBI against the Orioles last night. That brings his season line up to .292/.346/.446 with 11 homers, 48 driven in while adding 17 stolen bases against only three times caught. And that’s before talking about his defense which has been absolutely superb in right field.
When the Red Sox signed Victorino this past December many mocked. Including this guy, who made cracks about how a team with Bill James on the payroll could commit $13 million a year for three years to a guy who was coming off a below average season and looked to no longer be a defensive plus (at least in center). We don’t know what 2014 and 2015 will hold for Victorino, but as of now it appears as though he was one of the best if not the best free agent signings of the winter. Some will argue that no matter what he does the next two years the value he’s provided in 2013 justifies the entire $39 million deal.
Also in the conversation: Torii Hunter, Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano and Zack Greinke. Possibly Marlon Byrd. But there is no doubt that the Sox did well snagging the Flyin’ Hawaiian.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.