CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Shane Victorino wants to leave Florida in a month ready to have the best season of his career.
Hed also like to leave with a contract extension from the Phillies.
Why not make it happen now? the all-star centerfielder said.
Like Cole Hamels, Victorino will be eligible for free agency after the season. He says that the Phillies have had recent discussions with his representatives, but were not close to a deal. He is hoping the gap can be closed so he doesnt have to test the free-agent market next off-season.
I love this place, he said. This is the place that gave me my chance. Im a World Series champion in this city. Thats stuff that forever will be remembered. I want to be here.
Victorino, 31, will make 9.5 million in the final year of a three-year, 22 million deal this season. He is willing to take a modest hometown discount to stay with the Phils.
I look at it this way, he said. If its a significant difference, I have to weigh my options. I obviously love playing in Philly. They made me who I am. That sits in the back of my mind. But I also understand theres a window in this game. Age and time comes into play. When I say I dont want to go anywhere -- yeah, I call this home and I want to finish my career here -- but well see how it goes. I wont say I wont take a hometown discount, but I also will say I want to maximize my opportunity with not only what Ive accomplished as an individual, but as part of a team.
Victorino makes it no secret:
He is looking for a five-year deal.
He indicated that the Phillies have been short of that term in negotiations.
Ill be 32 on the market, he said. I can go another five years. I would think even more. I want to go until Im 40.
Id like five years, yeah. Why wouldnt I? I signed for three. Why wouldnt I want the next one to be longer?
My agents say I can get a five-year deal on the market. Why not trust them?
Victorino would not talk dollars, but its likely he is seeking something in excess of the 12 million per season that Aaron Rowand, his predecessor in centerfield, received from the San Francisco Giants in the form of a five-year deal after the 2007 season.
Victorino said that playing for a winner was also important to him.
But Im also not going to say, Well, give me a three-year deal and Im going to sign here," he said. "I want to get it done. At the same time,I want market value."
Phillies officials do not talk about contract negotiations, but its possible they have prioritized re-signing Hamels ahead of Victorino.
I understand, Victorino said. Why wouldnt you want to get the best left-handed free agent next year and try to lock him up?
It could cost 20 million or more per season to keep Hamels from testing the free-agent market. A deal like that could push the Phillies close to the luxury-tax threshold (178 million this year and next and 189 million in 2014) in coming seasons. That is something Phillies officials will have to weigh in their negotiations with Victorino, and, down the road, with rightfielder Hunter Pence, who can be a free agent after the 2013 season.
Victorino understands that he ultimately could be a budget cut.
Were all in the same boat, he said. Youre a team where payroll is becoming a big topic. You look at the great players you have here, and if you have great players youve got to spend the money in that regard. Do I understand the situation we could all be in? Absolutely.
But he hopes something can be worked out.
I just dont picture myself in another uniform, he said. Well see what happens.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org