Victorino, Phillies finalize 3-year, $22-million deal
PHILADELPHIA — Another day and two more deals for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Center fielder Shane Victorino’s $22 million, three-year contract was finalized Friday by the Phillies, who reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year deal with pitcher Jose Contreras.
Contreras’ contract is contingent on a physical, a person familiar with the negotiations said on condition of anonymity because the Phillies didn’t make an announcement.
Victorino’s deal, which calls for salaries of $5 million this year, $7.5 million in 2011 and $9.5 million in 2012, avoided a salary arbitration hearing next month. The two-time Gold Glove winner is now set up for life financially after a shaky start to a career in which he was left unprotected by the Dodgers in winter meeting draft, returned to Los Angeles by San Diego, then left unprotected again and taken by the Phillies.
“Growing up, did I ever think I’d be in this position? Absolutely not. Nor would my parents, nor would anybody who watched me grow up,” he said. “Even in the last few years, any successes that I have I don’t think I would have ever said I’d be in this position that I’m in today. So I’m very thankful to sit here at the podium and actually have my own press conference.”
A day earlier, Philadelphia announced a $24 million, three-year contract with pitcher Joe Blanton. Catcher Carlos Ruiz is the only Phillies player remaining in arbitration.
“Shane has become obviously one of our core players, one of the players we hoped to continue to build around,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He’s an All-Star, a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder and we’re pleased to have him for the next three years.”
Victorino hit .292 with 39 doubles, 13 triples, 10 homers, 62 RBIs and 25 steals for the NL champions last season, when he made $3,175,000.
“He’s a Gold Glove center fielder, and speed is a big part of his game; those are tough things to acquire,” Amaro said. “He’s got a unique skill. And I believe in strength up the middle. I’ll put ours up with any in baseball, defensively and offensively, through the middle of the field.”
Victorino realizes he was never a top prospect. Amaro called him “your classic overachiever.”
“It made me work hard. And that’s what it’s about. They’re not going to just hand it to you,” Victorino said. “When you have to work hard, you really appreciate what you have at the end of the day, and that’s where I’m at.”
Coming off the 2008 World Series title and consecutive NL pennants, Philadelphia has four starting pitchers signed through at least 2012 and seven of eight position players through 2011.
“Ruben and these guys have done a great job,” Victorino said. “If you told me after the season that we could get better before spring training, I would have said, `No chance. How can we?’ And then we went out and got a guy like Roy Halladay. They did a good job of getting Roy for the next four years. The team keeps getting better, and that’s what it’s about.”