Boston Red Sox five biggest player busts from 2010-2019
By Mike Towle
Just from the standpoint of numbers, outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig might be the biggest bust among this UnFab Five. Acquired by the Red Sox in a July 31, 2014 trade engineered by then-GM Ben Cherington that sent disgruntled pitcher John Lackey and minor leaguer Corey Littrell to the St. Louis Cardinals and also brought pitcher Joe Kelly to Boston, Craig never found his footing (we’ll explain the pun in a jif) with the Red Sox.
Having emerged as an accomplished hitter and solid RBI man for the Cardinals (.291 BA, .460 slugging in parts of 4.5 seasons with the Cardinals, to go with 92 and 97 RBI’s in 2012 and 2013, respectively), Craig was being counted on as a potential middle-of-the-order type hitter for the Red Sox. It remained only a dream, though.
The problem was that Craig had arrived in Boston as damaged goods, and it was not easily, if ever, fixable. He had been diagnosed with what twobirdsonabat.com described as a Lisfranc injury, one in which one or more metatarsal bones in the foot are separated from the tarsus. It was an injury Craig had suffered running out an infield hit late in the 2013 season, the extent of which remained a mystery throughout his remaining days with the Cards and then his entire time in the Red Sox organization.
Craig played sparingly for Boston at the MLB level during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He appeared in 65 games total and accumulated 173 at-bats with the Red Sox, producing a paltry six extra-base hits and an alarmingly-low five RBIs while batting .139 in what approximated a third of a season.
Although viewed as a good teammate with a strong work ethic – it’s really no fun putting him on this list, but he has to be here – Craig spent the rest of his time with the Red Sox organization at Pawtucket. There, he continued to search for his swing and power, although his foot issues persisted, affecting his stance and swing. Despite occasional flashes at AAA of his former hitting prowess, none of it ever stuck and he never made it back to the Red Sox in 2016 or 2017.
There was no getting around it: the Red Sox were stuck with a bad contract and the dollars were escalating year by year. By the time the Red Sox released Craig on June 30, 2017, he was making $11 million a year (none of it counting as taxable payroll as he was no longer on the 40-man), with money still being paid out to him in 2018 in the form of a $1 million option buyout.
Craig was later signed by the San Diego Padres in 2018 – twice in fact – but was finally released by them for good in March 2019 without him ever making it back to the majors.