Free Agent Faceoff: Angel Pagan vs. Shane Victorino

The free agent market for center fielders is strong this year, with regulars Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, Josh Hamilton, Angel Pagan, and Shane Victorino currently unsigned.  MLBTR readers narrowly prefer Bourn to Upton, but both figure to receive five-year contracts in excess of $65MM.  Hamilton is in a class by himself, leaving Pagan and Victorino as more reasonably-priced options.

Pagan, 31, went from a non-tender candidate a year ago to whipping up Doritos Locos at Taco Bell for adoring fans last month (the latter is generally seen as a good thing).  Rival agents may attempt to take Pagan down a peg for a relatively short resume, but only one of his last four seasons was subpar (2011).  Pagan is above-average in all aspects of the game, from offense to defense to baserunning.  Prior to the World Series exposure he was good in kind of a sneaky way, but the sum total is a player potentially worth five wins above replacement.  There's a vibe that his superb timing may result in a contract worth $10-12MM annually over three or four years.  It's plausible that someone stretches and adds a fifth year.

Victorino, 32 later this month, is another late-blooming switch-hitter.  His success as a big league regular dates back to 2006, however.  Compared to Pagan, Victorino had the opposite walk-year effect.  His stock took a hit due to struggles against right-handed pitching and an unimpressive final two months after a trade to the Dodgers.  The term of his next contract seems likely to be shorter than Pagan's despite their similarity in age.  Pagan bounced back after an ugly 2011; there's no reason Victorino can't do the same next year.  And keep in mind that even with the down offensive year, Victorino's ability to play a credible center field still made him worth three wins above replacement in 2012.

Pagan and Victorino are overachievers, in that both were discarded by multiple teams and took a while to establish themselves as regulars.  Now both are on the free agent market, and their career trajectories might not be as different as you think.


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