Allen Craig Is Still Here?


With all of the wheelin’ and dealin’ going on in the winter months, one question still remains: what will the Boston Red Sox do with Allen Craig?

With Max Scherzer signing with the Washington Nationals, recently, rumors have swirled around the club that the Nats would be willing to trade one of their other starting pitchers. One of the only teams that could afford those types of salaries is the Red Sox. For, Jason Mastrodonato stated yesterday that “the Red Sox could provide any of their extra offensive players like Allen Craig, once an elite hitter in the National League who is coming off a forgettable season that looks like an outlier. He could play first base or the outfield, giving the Nationals valuable insurance for oft-injured third baseman/first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and right fielder Jayson Werth, who may not be ready for opening day.”

The cost to the Nats would have to be one of their starting pitchers, if the Red Sox would even attempt a trade. Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez, and Stephen Strasburg make up the rest of Washington’s starting rotation, and would be ace material if added to the Red Sox. As Gonzalez is a lefty, the argument has led to maybe one of the other pitchers being on the market, although the Nats could just keep everyone. Strasburg seems to be the name coming up on baseball rumor mills, as he would be the hardest to re-sign. The Nationals need offence, “while selling high on a pitcher they know they have little chance of re-signing after ‘16, when Scott Boras will sell Strasburg for the price of a small country” (Mastrodonato).

But, is Allen Craig a big enough carrot to feed the Nats?

The package would undoubtedly be Craig with one or two prospects for someone like Strasburg, once the darling of the Nationals’ rotation. Craig had a 2014 that he would like to forget, so his stock is no longer what it once was. After becoming an all-star in 2013, hitting .315 with 97 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals, Craig fell on hard times. After a very slow start, the following season, Craig was traded with pitcher Joe Kelly for veteran pitcher John Lackey and prospect Corey Littrell. Craig did not fair much better in Boston, hitting a putrid .128 in 94 at-bats. A foot injury kept him out the rest of the season.

With plans for anyone other than Craig being highlighted in the media to play in Boston’s outfield in 2015, the once-heralded talent has been in career limbo, this winter. He has been rumored to have been heavily shopped around by the Red Sox brass, only to still be a part of the club, suggesting that he might not be movable without help. Whomever picks up Craig will have to eat another $38.5 million with a $13 million team option in 2018, on the off-chance that he turns his funk around, which he very well could do.

If the Red Sox were to trade Craig, though, they would still have to give up some important assets for any deal to develop. If we were to take the Strasburg idea, for example, the Nationals would have to part with a man they viewed as the future of the sport, let alone the team. Strasburg was the first pick in the first round of the 2009 MLB draft. He has pitched over 649 innings, earning 746 strikeouts to only 166 walks. The man’s four-seam fastball clocks at over 95 mph, while his changeup is faster than some starters’ fastballs, clocked at 88 mph. And Allen Craig’s potential will make up enough offence to make Strasburg expendable? Craig was essentially traded straight up for a prospect, last season.

Craig would need to be dealt with some major prospects and other young talent, such as Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, and Mookie Betts, if anyone the caliber of Strasburg is mentioned. This eventuality seems highly unlikely, at least before Spring Training. With the Red Sox signing veteran talent, the roster has been getting older, not younger. The prospects may be necessary to fill voids left by either veteran injuries or young talent, like Xander Bogaerts, still struggling to prove themselves. For now, Craig will have to wait until he gets a chance to play and increase his trade value. Until then, Craig will likely be keeping a seat warm on the bench for the Red Sox in the near future, instead of Strasburg.