The Chicago Cubs released Shane Victorino on Tuesday but were able to persuade the veteran outfielder to return at an even bigger bargain on the same day.
Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com reported at the time of Victorino’s release that Chicago was promptly attempting to bring him back. The efforts evidently succeeded in rather swift fashion with Victorino already back in the fold.
Otherwise, the 35-year-old would have been moving yet again for what would have been a fourth different club in a short time span. That had to factor into his prompt return to the Windy City.
Victorino was dealt from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Angels prior to last season’s MLB trade deadline. After he signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs this offseason, his future was once more uncertain when the team cut him loose not long before Opening Day.
This renewed stint with the Cubs may well mark the final stop for Victorino in his accomplished MLB career. He’s dealt with various injuries in recent years and only appeared in 101 games over the previous two seasons.
When he has been on the field, Victorino has experienced a sharp decline in production at the plate, culminating in a career-low OPS of .601 in 2015. Declining physical skills also lessen his value as a defender.
Speed used to be a bigger part of Victorino’s game, allowing him to steal bases in bunches in his prime, stretch doubles into triples and cover immense ground in the outfield.
Nagging right hamstring injuries in 2014 and from last season further hindered what was one of his greatest strengths, as did a calf injury that landed Victorino on the disabled list. He underwent back surgery in August 2014 as well, which is why he was out for much of that year.
Chicago has plenty of depth in terms of outfield personnel between Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler, so it’s unlikely Victorino will see the field often in 2016.
At least he can serve as an excellent mentor to a young, talented team that just went to the National League Championship Series last year and has all the makings of a World Series contender.
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