It’s been a tough year for the Philadelphia Phillies. The five-time NL East Champions are stuck at the bottom of the division with seemingly little hope of mounting a comeback big enough to catch the Washington Nationals. Talk about a role reversal. As such, the Phillies started making moves this afternoon and have lead off by dealing center fielder Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Philadelphia will receive right-handers Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin in return.
Victorino is slated to be a free agent at season’s end, one who could conceivably be an option that the Nationals may discuss when the time comes as the organization still seeks a long term solution in center field, and still has abour $3.3 Million remaining on his contract for this year. He’s spent nearly his entire career in center field but will likely shift over to left field with Matt Kemp‘s presence in center.
Victorino has had a down year, hitting just .261/.324/.401 over 431 plate appearances. The 31 year old is returning to the organization that originally drafted him in 1999. Philadelphia selected Victorino in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft and was able to witness him develop into a three time Gold Glove Award winner. He was often the underrated part of the winning Phillies teams we’ve seen over the past few years, often being overshadowed by the accomplishments of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and the starting rotation. But Victorino may be missed in Philadelphia. There was still some belief that he could be resigned this winter up until the team signed Cole Hamels to such an extravagant contract extension just under two weeks ago.
Lindblom is the most immediate-impacting piece coming back from the Dodgers, as he’ll likely work into the team’s Major League bullpen mix. The 25 year old has posted decent numbers across his limited time in the Majors, posting a 2.91 ERA and 1.177 WHIP across 77.1 innings of work. This year he’s had some trouble keeping the ball in the park, however, allowing 1.7 HR/9.
Martin is the better prospect of the pair, ranking at #17 by Baseball America prior to the season. He’s projected to potentially have a ceiling of a #2 starter, but still needs a great deal of work in order to reach that potential. Martin was a 1st Round pick of the Dodgers in 2008 and has spent most of 2012 in Double-A where he’s 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA through 20 starts.
Losing Victorino suddenly seemed inevitable once the Hamels extension was formally announced, but for a long time it certainly seemed as though he’d be a fixture in Philadelphia for a long time coming. The Phillies at least have a replacement in house, as John Mayberry Jr. will likely slide into the starting role for the remainder of the season. Victorino – a career .283/.337/.421 hitter in 423 plate appearances against Washington – is now out of the NL East for the next two months but could be making a Dodgers lineup that much tougher to face in October.
One other factor worth keeping in mind as a result of this deal, the Phillies will potentially be bigger competition this winter for free agent center fielders.