The Boston Red Sox have an elephant in the room. He’s not an elephant because of his physical size; it’s because of the way he has played for them. He’s very noticeable, conspicuous if you will. Yet, instead of this elephant being one who nobody wants to talk about, he’s being mentioned all of the time, especially when he gets to play. He’s dangled on the baseball diamond, as the Red Sox wait for any possible offers to take him. His name is Allen Craig.
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This season, Craig has appeared in 12 games, hitting .143 in only 21 at-bats. He has one RBI on three hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. Last season was one that Craig would like to forget, after being traded from the St. Louis Cardinals with pitcher Joe Kelly for veteran pitcher John Lackey. Craig hit .128 in 29 games for the Red Sox. He had 94 at-bats where he earned 12 hits, including a home run and two RBIs. He also had nine walks to 36 strikeouts.
Last night, Craig started in left field to give the RBI machine Hanley Ramirez a break. Craig went 1-for-4 with a single to left field. Pretty uneventful and without impact, which sums up his time in Boston.
So why are they keeping him?
Craig still has options for the Red Sox to put him down in the minor system. Yet, with outfielders Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. edging ever closer to being called up from Triple-A, do the Red Sox execs really think that Craig is worth helping to regain his form?
If they send Craig down, he may never come back up to the Red Sox, with the log jam of outfielders they already have. Shane Victorino‘s hamstring could be a lingering issue, but with Ramirez and Mookie Betts as your starters, the team may be able to live with anyone filling the spot in right field. Bench players like Brock Holt and Daniel Nava have shown that they can hold their own, at least better than Craig, against big league opposition.
And it’s not like Craig’s performances have been making other teams desperate to add them to their lineups. If he was to be traded, Craig would likely have to go in a package-deal, with multiple players being involved.
Why not just release him? The albatross of a contract Craig has around his neck is the issue, there. Craig is expected to make another $20 million in the next two years, with another $13 million team option in 2018. That’s a lot of money for a player who can’t hit his weight, nor the weight of the average male high school student.
The Red Sox stand in limbo over Craig, although, at this point, many supporters probably feel that it’s more like purgatory. Currently, the Red Sox sit 19th in team batting average (.230), behind three of their division rivals; however, they cannot use a player like Craig to boost their average or trade for someone who will.
Can’t play him, can’t trade him, can’t cut him. What can the Red Sox do, other than nothing?
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