A few days ago, we attempted to get a feel for the type of contract Shane Victorino is in position to see as he enters his final year before free agency. We noted that his .801 OPS over the last three seasons is sixth-best among center fielders. One of the players ahead of him was the Pirates Andrew McCutchen. So now that McCutchen has signed a six-year, $51 million extension, let's quickly re-visit the situation.
Over the last three years, McCutchen has posted a .276/.365/.428 line with 51 home runs and 79 stolen bases. During that same time period, Victorino has hit .277/.347/.454 with 45 home runs and 78 stolen bases.
Here is the breakdown of McCutchen's contract:
2012 (25 years old): .500 (2.123 service time)
2013 (26 years old): $4.5 (1st arb year)
2014 (27 years old): $7.25 (2nd arb year)
2015 (28 years old): $10.0 (3rd arb year)
2016 (29 years old): $13.0 (1st FA year)
2017 (30 years old): $14.0 (2nd FA year)
2018 (31 years old): $14.75/$1.0 (3rd FA year)
The key years to look at are 2016-18, because those are the years when McCutchen would have been a free agent. The Pirates will pay him an AAV of $14.0 million for the first two years, factoring in the $1 million buyout.
In our earlier look at Victorino's free agency, we set the likely floor for him at $13 million, and the likely ceiling at $18 million. If he were to hit free agency today, I'd expect him to command closer to the floor than the ceiling. But a huge year could easily send his price soaring.
The big question, obviously, is years. Victorino will be heading into his 32-year-old season when he reaches free agency in November. So a three-year contract would pay him through the age of 34, a four-year contract would pay him through the age of 35, and a five-year contract would pay him through the age of 36. We posited earlier that Victorino should start out by seeking a five-year deal that would pay him through the age of 36, which has been the magic age for a number of marquee free agents over the last few years. You have to expect the Phillies to start by offering three, with the middle point being four years through the age of 35, which is the age that the Phillies signed Jimmy Rollins through this past offseason.
Yes, McCutchen has better numbers and a higher ceiling than Victorino. But he also got the Pirates to commit to a $14 million AAV for his free agent seasons four years before he would have become a free agent. If he stays healthy, it will likely turn out to be a bargain. But it also gives him a lot of financial security. That was the trade off.
Victorino won't have anything to trade off. He clearly wants to stay in Philadelphia. Thus far, Cole Hamels has done a much better job of playing poker. But hey, Victorino wears his heart on his sleeve, and that's part of his appeal. A fair deal for both sides, even after the McCutchen deal, is probably in the four-year, $50-to-$60 million range. But that's right now, when we are talking about nominal dollars, and not real dollars, which tend to get inflated on the open market.