Shane Victorino returns to the team that drafted him 13 years ago.
The Dodgers have traded for outfielder Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies, sending pitcher Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin to the city of brotherly love, along with a player to be named later or cash considerations.
This season Victorino is hitting .264/.324/.401, a 94 OPS+, which while a down year for Victorino is still an upgrade over what the Dodgers have gotten out of left field this season.
"We’re excited to add an All-Star caliber player with postseason experience," said general manager Ned Colletti in a statement. "He plays the game with passion, gives us a top of the order bat from both sides of the plate, can steal bases and is solid defensively in the outfield."
Dodgers left fielders have combined to hit .259/.329/.348 on the season, a 79 OPS+ that ranks 12th in the National League, with a league-worst four home runs and 26 extra-base hits from the position. And that's before factoring in the defensive upgrade that Victorino will very likely provide over Bobby Abreu, et al.
The deal likely gained momentum last night when the Dodgers acquired relief pitcher Brandon League from Seattle. But while Victorino is an upgrade he will be a free agent after this season just like League so it comes down to Lindblom (cost controlled relief pitcher through 2017), Martin, Logan Bawcom, and Leon Landry for a pair of marginal upgrade rentals.
Because he is fast, Victorino gives the Dodgers someone manager Don Mattingly will be comfortable using in the leadoff spot. That likely means that when Hanley Ramirez does eventually move to shortstop, he won't be moving off the position once Dee Gordon returns from the disabled list.
Victorino was drafted by the Dodgers in the sixth round in 1999, and he was let go in two different Rule 5 drafts. In 2002, the San Diego Padres plucked Victorino from the Dodgers but sent back the 22-year old after he hit .151/.232/.178 in 36 games. In 2004, the Phillies nabbed Victorino in the Rule 5 draft and this time he stuck around, especially after the Dodgers didn't take him back when Philadelphia tried to return him.
By 2006 Victorino was a regular outfielder and he was a key part of a Phillies team that won five straight division titles from 2007-2011 and that beat the Dodgers twice in the National League Championship Series in 2008 and 2009.
Victorino is perhaps best known to Dodgers fans for objecting to Hiroki Kurdoa throwing a pitch near his head in Game 3 of the 2008 NLCS, or perhaps hitting the game-tying home run in Game 4 that year off of Cory Wade, three batters before Matt Stairs took all the air out of the Dodger balloon.
From 2008-2011 Victorino hit .281/.348/.452, a 111 OPS+, averaging 30 doubles, 12 triples, 15 home runs, 28 steals, and 96 runs per season. He peaked at age 30 last season, hitting .279/.355/.491 in 132 games, and made his second All-Star team.
Victorino is making $9.5 million this season in the final campaign of a three-year, $22 million contract. With 65 days left in the season, the Dodgers will be on the hook for approximately $3,374,317 for the rest of the year.
Lindblom, 25, was 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 48 games this season, with 43 strikeouts and 18 walks in 47 2/3 innings. He pitched his way onto the team in spring training, earning the eighth spot in the bullpen, and gradually climbed the depth chart ladder, emerging as a setup man for Kenley Jansen. Lindblom won't be arbitration eligible until after 2014, and won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season.
Martin, 23, appeared to turn a corner this season, with a 3.58 ERA in 20 starts in Double A Chattanooga. Martin, the Dodgers' first round pick in 2008, had 112 strikeouts in 118 innings this season with a career-best walk rate of 12.5% (compared to 14.7% from 2008-2011).
The Dodgers will need to make a corresponding roster move once Victorino arrives to put him on the active roster. The Phillies are in Washngton DC, so it seems unlikely that he would be available to the Dodgers tonight. League will take Lindblom's spot on both the active and 40-man rosters, and my guess for Victorino is Juan Uribe and his nearly $10 million in remaining salary getting designated for assignment.
UPDATE: Michael Antonini, who was called up twice this year but never pitched, was desginated for assignment. That clears 40-man space, but the Dodgers will still need to remove someone from the active roster to make room for both League and Victorino. It makes a Uribe DFA less likely.
But the day is not yet done, as the trade deadline is at 1 p.m. PDT. The Dodgers still sorely need a bat, as first basemen Juan Rivera and James Loney have combined to hit .258/.303/.353 with seven home runs this season. If that position doesn't get upgraded, then what is the point?