With all of the issues plaguing the Boston Red Sox, it is easy to get caught up in what drama is unfolding with their players. Yet, one should not forget that there are many other teams that are suffering similar woes. When it comes to trade rumors, sometimes the Red Sox become the ‘savior’ of other teams’ fans. That’s the risk that’s run with trade rumors: will the trade make both teams happy?
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At this point, it’s less than a rumor; it’s only an idea, for now. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe made a claim, among many in his article yesterday, that Allen Craig may make the move back to his old digs with the St. Louis Cardinals. The first baseman, who can play some outfield, “was hitting .315 through Thursday [for Triple-A Pawtucket] and has made improvements in his swing. One thought is to send him back to the Cardinals, but the $24 million or so left on his contract — even though it’s the deal the Cardinals signed him to — is problematic. Another two weeks of good hitting could get Craig back to the majors.” Mark Polishuk of MLBTradeRumors.com believes that Cafardo’s claim is based on the fact that “Matt Adams [is] gone for possibly the entire season and the Cardinals [are] in need of first base help.”
Yes, Adams is gone. Yes, Boston would love to either move Craig or see him re-surge in their own lineup. However, the answers may lie in Craig’s contract and another Red Sox outfielder who is not getting as much of a chance as he might need. Even Cafardo admits, “It’s time for the Red Sox to trade Jackie Bradley Jr., for his own good. He could blossom as a good, everyday player if he gets a chance to play more consistently.” Bradley has made highlight-reel catches both this season and in 2014 for the Red Sox; yet, he has only played six games for Boston in 2015. While Craig is owed $20 million, with a team option of $13 million in 2018, Bradley is signed until 2020 for just over half a million dollars a season, with earliest arbitration eligibility in 2017.
Mar 31, 2015; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
In 30 games for Pawtucket, Bradley has hit .352, with two home runs and 11 RBIs. He has a .406 on-base percentage and he is smacking the ball at a .484 slugging percentage. Bradley is a force of speed on the bases and in the outfield. Craig, on the other hand, is hitting a slash line of .328/.431/.443, with a home run and 4 RBIs in 16 Triple-A games. In less games, Craig’s numbers are not as impressive as Bradley’s, regardless of the fact that Craig’s speed is no match, either. For a player who relies on his bat to keep him in baseball, he’s not hitting as well as a guy that Boston won’t let see the field more than six times, this year.
Granted, it’s not that the Cardinals necessarily need Bradley, as they are in need of a first baseman. However, the more logical thing for them to do would be to take Bradley and move another player to first base, possibly a good-hitting outfielder, if they were to make a deal with the Red Sox. The Cards already dealt Craig to Boston, under the impression that he would never regain his form, at least not soon enough to wait for him. Why would they bring him back, if he is still trying to prove himself in Triple-A? All that St. Louis would be doing is bringing in a player with another huge contract to replace someone for half of a season. Do they really want to eat that money when Matt Adams returns?
Regardless of whether Boston should keep Craig or not, their executive brass would have to completely change their philosophy that they’ve shown in the last few months to make the deal. They sent Craig down, after playing him above Bradley, in hopes of either sending him somewhere else or to help rekindle their offense. As the Red Sox continue to struggle to score runs, why would they let Craig go if he finally has figured out his bat? If anything, they would move Craig because of his contract, if current first baseman Mike Napoli stays consistent with his own recent surge. It could happen.
Craig could be a great fit for the Cardinals, if a lot of ‘ifs’ come through. However, Boston would need something in return for the deal, which means the deal would probably involve multiple players on both sides. That’s even if it were to happen. Craig has a lot to prove, first, before any rumor can get any traction, here.
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