Allen Craig was never part of the Red Sox’ plans for 2014. In the midst of a down year with the Cardinals, slashing .237/.291/.346 through 97 games at the time of the trade, the Red Sox brought the former All-Star to Boston to be an offensive contributor in the team’s future. Craig, who was battling through a Lisfranc injury that he suffered late in the 2013 season, was even worse after joining the Red Sox, hitting only .128/.234/.191, but Craig’s performance down the stretch was not the main goal in a lost season for the Red Sox.
And after an offseason of rest, Boston’s acquisition of Craig could turn into a phenomenal buy-low move for the Red Sox.
In the early stages of spring training, Craig has impressed Red Sox staff and manager John Farrell had some encouraging words about Craig’s performance.
"There’s much more life in the bat. He’s come into camp in great shape. The foot isn’t an issue at this point and we don’t anticipate it to be. We just see increased core strength and better bat speed. I know it’s just BP but he looks different than when we got him. And let’s face it, the shock of the trade is in the rear view mirror now, more so than when he came to us."
However, even if Craig gets back to normal (and Craig has been an elite hitter in the past, slashing .312/.364/.500 from 2011-2013), playing time will be tough to come by for the 30-year old. Though Craig has experience at a number of positions, he has received the most playing time at first base, occupied by Mike Napoli, and in the corner outfield, where the Red Sox already have themselves quite a logjam between Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, and Shane Victorino without even considering Craig.
Of course, an improved Craig isn’t a bad thing even if it does make for quite a logjam, though. Either the Red Sox will utilize Craig as a corner outfield and first base utility man of sorts, plugging him into the lineup on starters’ off days or as an injury replacement or the team will be trade him. A healthy, productive Craig would net a significantly larger return than last season’s Craig and the Red Sox could wind up cashing in on Craig in a few weeks if he performs well. There’s obviously a large difference between looking good in practice and playing in games, even spring training games, but it’s a good sign to see a revamped Craig on the Red Sox roster.