Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi reported first on Monday evening that the Boston Red Sox had traded OF Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Angels for IF Josh Rutledge and cash considerations.
Victorino signed a 3 year 39 million dollar deal with the Red Sox before the 2013 season. The deal is set to expire at the end of this year and sources stated 3.8 of the 4.9 million dollars left on his contract will stay on the books in Boston.
The move is the first of what will likely be a series of dumps for the Red Sox this week before Friday’s trade deadline as their season continues to crumble under mismanagement and underproduction. The team fell 13 games back of first in the AL East with a 10-8 loss to Chicago Monday night.
Victorino’s time in Boston was short, just 2 and a half years, but what initially was criticized by many as an overpayment of a veteran player would end up paying dividends.
He would become a crucial clubhouse presence and on field contributor, along with several other key overproducers and a legendary camaraderie the team shocked the Baseball world by wining the World Series a year after a last place finish.
Victorian’s specific role on the 2013 title team was one that cannot be forgotten. Health had always been a concern, but that year he scrapped together 122 games of grit and determination, becoming the team’s mainstay in RF.
Victorino would post some of his best career numbers; including a .294/.351/.451 batting line with 15 homers, 61 RBI, 21 steals, and 26 2B as part of a 1-2 punch in explosive lineup behind CF Jacoby Ellsbury.
His presence was quiet yet dynamic on a team full of personality that just always seemed to pull it together in the right moments on the field. Playing elite level defense in the notorious Fenway RF also ended up being a crucial contribution to the team, and one that would earn him the AL Gold Glove for that position.
At the end of the year Victorino would end up with his second world championship, an appearance in final AL MVP voting, and a 6.1 WAR (wins above replacement) that was good for 23rd in Baseball (2.2 dWar was 12th best in MLB).
The playoffs will likely be where his memory will live on for years in Boston though. After batting .429/.556/.429 in a ALDS victory over Tampa Bay, Victorino was struggling mightily against Detroit in the ALCS a series he would bat .125 in before providing one of the most iconic moments of the team’s run.
With Boston down 2-1 with the bases loaded in Game 6 at Fenway, following a rare Jose Iglesias error with 1 out, Victorino stepped to the plate and worked a 1-2 count.
On the next pitch Tigers reliever Jose Veras, who was attempting to hold the slim lead for eventual Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, would hang a breaking ball to Victorino. He leaned over and hooked a high fly ball to left field that would fall into the green monster for a grand slam that put Boston up 5-2 in the 7th inning.
The slam sent Fenway into a frenzy as the always energetic Victorino jumped up the sideline, pumping his fists while watching the ball fly out.
The Sox took the game and the series following the slam, propelling them into the World Series against St Louis who they would take down in Game 6. Again Victorino came up with the bases loaded in that final game and cleared them with a triple that put Boston up for good.
For all the magic of 2013, much like the rest of the team, it just wasn’t the same for Victorino in 2014 or this year. He only appeared in 30 games for the team the following year and has only played 33 this year battling a variety of injuries at 34 years old.
He now heads to Anaheim, joining an outfield as a depth piece and veteran presence on a team that has mostly fielded Matt Joyce, Mike Trout, and Kole Calhoun from left to right. While batting just .245/.324/.298 this year, Victorino will provide the Angels with some outfield versatility that they will need as they push for the playoffs.
Rumors state that the Angels are still searching for a more stable option in their outfield, specifically a left handed bat, but Victorino fills a hole for now.
For Boston, the team looks as though it is moving ahead of the largely veteran driven 2013 roster. 1B Mike Napoli will likely be out the door in some way before Friday’s Trade Deadline, both he and Victorino were linked to Pittsburgh a few days ago. Meanwhile the market will likely be strong for the aging yet still dynamic closer Koji Uehara.
Clearing Victorino out of the mix leaves the starting job open for Cuban OF Rusney Castillo who the Red Sox signed for 72M last season. Promoted following the trade, it has been a struggle for the 28 year old to establish himself with the team this year, playing more games for Pawtucket than he has for Boston since signing.
Castillo will now have his biggest opportunity yet to establish himself and prove he’s a longterm OF option for Boston. In short time at the end of last season and sharing RF earlier this year, before being demoted again, he has batted just .264/.308/.364 in 36 MLB games.
For Castillo, the key may be stability and time, as the transition for Cuban defects can be notoriously difficult. Both will come to him now as the team commits to him in right field for the rest of this season, but skeptical eyes will still be fixated on him until his production begins to meet the big money Boston pushed to acquire him.
As for Rutledge, who Boston will be acquiring in the Victorino trade, he has played mostly SS in 266 career games for Colorado before spending most of this year in AAA for the Angels. A career .259 hitter, he’ll likely serve a utility role for the team from here on out.
Victorino would hold one last press conference with the team Monday evening, on the egde of tears the whole time. He thanked the team for “giving him a chance” even though “back in 2012 everybody was doubting me.”
He would also go on to send out a heartfelt tweet, thanking the fans and saying one last time “every little things gonna be alright” in reference to “Three Little Birds” which became his iconic at bat song during his tenure.
Thank you John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington, John Farrell, the coaching and medical staff, and the front office for giving me the honor and privilege to play in Boston.
To all the fans, thanks for the support and memories. I will never forget my time here. “Every little thing gonna be alright!
While his time in Boston was short, Victorino was instrumental in bringing a championship back to Boston, now he’ll get to chase one more this Fall with the Angels.
GM Ben Cherington put it simply following the trade: “In my opinion we wouldn’t have won the World Series without him in 2013.”