Center fielder Shane Victorino is looking for a five-year contract extension from the Philadelphia Phillies, and he wants to get his new deal soon; he is set to be a free agent after the 2012 season. Neither side has agreed on much of anything at this point, but it will be interesting to see what one of the biggest names in the game should get from the Phillies. Victorino was worth almost 6 WAR last season, and he does everything well; defense, baserunning, and hitting. At the age of 31, however, Shane Victorino should not receive a five-year deal, because older center fielders don’t age well. They lose speed and ability quickly, and not even one of the best CFs in baseball deserves that kind of a deal.
“I’d like five years, yeah. Why wouldn’t I?” Shane Victorino said. “I signed for three [on my last contract]. Why wouldn’t I want the next one to be longer?”
The only thing working in his favor to obtain a long-term deal is the fact that he is easily the Phillies best position player and a fan favorite, but that doesn’t mean that much. It’s all about production, and while Victorino is an elite player right now, he isn’t going to be elite when he’s 35. The best thing for the Phils to do is to give him a three-year deal with a club option for a fourth year, but it should be noted that he will decline after the third year of the deal. However, of all the centerfielders in baseball, Victorino is the best to cope with age. He has power and patience, and he isn’t one of those CFs who relies on speed and defense. He can steal bases with ease and plays good defense, but it isn’t like much of his value is derived from those two attributes.
“I look at it this way,” Shane Victorino said. “If it’s a significant difference, I have to weigh my options more than anything. I obviously love to play in Philly. They gave me my opportunity. … But I also understand there’s a window in this game … When I say I don’t want to go anywhere, yeah, I call this home. I want to finish my career here. I won’t say I won’t take a hometown discount, but I also will say I want to maximize my opportunity with not only what I’ve accomplished as an individual, but as part of a team.”
Below are some projections for Shane Victorino in 2012 using the Simple WAR Calculator developed by Lewie Pollis.
Streamer: 4.2 WAR, 119 wRC+
Bill James: 4.5 WAR, 118 wRC+
RotoChamp: 4.4 WAR, 122 wRC+
Fans: 4.8 WAR, unknown
ZiPS: 4.6 WAR, 120 wRC+
Simple Marcel using last three years of data: 4.8 WAR, 122 wRC+
If the six projection systems are averaged out, his projected WAR output for the 2012 season should be around 4.5 WAR (4.55 WAR without rounding). Victorino is one of the best at his position, so the above projections that range between 4.2 and 4.8 WAR are not surprising. Using a multitude of projection systems gives a safe bet on a player’s projected value, but predicting the future after that, with decline factored in, is much more difficult.
Although he is willing to take a hometown discount and do what he can to play with the Phillies for the forseeable future, the team might not be seeing eye-to-eye with him. Similar CFs such as Torii Hunter and, most notably, former Phillies player Aaron Rowand have busted out of huge contracts handed to them in their veterancy.
Projected year-to-year WAR for Shane Victorino
2012 (age 31): 4.5 WAR ($21 million)
2013 (age 32): 4 WAR ($39 million)
2014 (age 33): 3 WAR ($53 million)
2015 (age 34):2 WAR ($61.5 million)
2016 (age 35): 1.5 WAR ($69 million)
2017 (age 36): 1 WAR ($75 million)
If a new five-year deal for Shane Victorino does not include the 2012 season, then he should receive $54 million between 2013 and 2017, which is almost $11 million per year or about 2.5 WAR in value per season. If the five years go from 2012-2016, then he should make $69 million (nearly $14 million per year) or 3 WAR in value per season.
The whole idea is that good players, like Victorino, will still play at a high level and then begin their descent at the age of 33. There is no correlation between decline and skill, so two similar players that are different in terms of overall skill will decline at the same rate. The idea is that he is a great player now, so he should be great at the ages of 31 and 32 and merely good at 33. From then on, it is a steady exponential decay that marches on towards league-average and below. Players succumb to the unrelenting jaws of time, and no player is immune to a decrease in overall value. However, Victorino should be at least an average player until his age-35 season. The Phillies need to be cautious when giving him his bank, and the Flyin’ Hawaiian must be ready to take a “hometown”- more like an aging- discount.
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