Victorino backs off demand

Shane Victorino holds the baseball during spring training workouts in Clearwater. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The way Shane Victorino sees it, why shouldn't he want to shoot for the stars with his next contract?

A day after telling two reporters he was seeking a five-year deal, Victorino wanted to clarify his demands: Most paramount is a desire to remain in Philadelphia.

"I'd like to," the 31-year-old centerfielder said. "I'm not saying this will be my last one. It might be. Who knows? What I'm saying is, why not finish it here? I made it seem like I want a five-year deal, but I'd love to stay."

Of course, Victorino has said that all along. And while there is a certain amount of public posturing required for contract negotiations — see Jimmy Rollins' five-year proclamation last October — there is little doubt he would relinquish free agency if the right deal came soon.

"Basically, what I want, I'd like to get something done now rather than later," Victorino said. "That's what the basis of this whole thing is. I want to do something now, to see if we can come to terms on something. I'm not saying I don't want to hit free agency. Free agency is what every athlete dreams of, maximizing their value.

"So why would I want to avoid that chance? Why not maximize what I have now, what's laid out in front of me? An opportunity to play for a winning team that I've been a part of. That's what I'm trying to get at. I'm not saying I'm going to get a five-year deal. I mean, who knows? Who says I can't get a seven-year deal? I don't know."

Victorino would likely be the top centerfielder on the market this winter. B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn are also free agents.

He said his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, have yet to formally engage in contract negotiations with the Phillies. The Levinsons have a strong relationship with Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who has signed three of their clients (Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco and Jonathan Papelbon) since becoming GM in 2009.

"My agent is going to reach out to them," Victorino said. "We'll talk about it openly and see if the two sides can try to figure something out."

Victorino said his agents have suggested Torii Hunter and Aaron Roward as comparables. Each centerfielder received a five-year deal in free agency. Hunter was 32 when he signed a five-year, $90 million contract and Rowand was 30 when he signed a five-year $60 million deal.

But the Phillies have prioritized a Cole Hamels extension this spring. They are well aware of what Victorino seeks even before formal negotiations have begun.

Victorino has sent mixed signals about accepting a discount to remain a Phillie as the budget expands. Five years may be the goal, but the way he talks, it sounds quite flexible.

"My whole thing, more than anything, I would like to get something done now," Victorino said. "I'd like to be a Phillie for the rest of my career. That's happy enough for me."

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