Is the Hex off the Allen Wrench?

EdRalphRomero

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Let's talk about the Wrench. Since suffering his Lisfranc injury Craig has been terrible:

2014 (STL and BOS) .215/.279/.315
2015 .152/.239/.203
2016 .572 OPS in mostly AAA

Of course, the Red Sox were able to shield themselves from much of the damage from the Craig contract by moving off the 40 man and storing him in the minors. This year his salary is $11M and is, effectively, the last year of his contract (team option for $13M in 2018 or $1M buy-out).

Thus far in Spring Training, Craig has been crushing the ball. To avoid the appearance of giving weight to some 20 or so ST at-bats, I won't list the specifics. To me, far more importantly, he looks healthy and I have heard multiple comments about how his swing looks like the guy who was a .300 hitter with some pop for the Cardinals.

To put Craig on the roster, the most likely spot to me appears to be the 5th outfielder/3rd (2nd?) first baseman type.

So there are a lot of moving pieces in play including where Swihart winds up. But obviously the big one is Craig himself. Throughout his career, Craig has hit lefties better than righties (.829 vs. .744 ops). Mitch Moreland has the opposite split (.778 vs. .673). Craig could slot in nicely as the short side of a 1b platoon with Moreland if Hanley is better served as the everyday DH (either because Hanley plays better with that consistency or his arm requires it or if Chris Young is playing regularly in the outfield).

What would the Sox need to see out of Craig to risk putting him back on the 40 man roster? Can he possibly achieve enough in Spring Training to make that happen, or is that sample size inherently too small considering the last few years and he needs to show it at AAA (which is my likely answer). If AAA how long would you need to see sustained success? Peter Abraham says he's starting in the minors no matter what.

And let me just say it in advance, I recognize that this is very premature and likely an over-reaction to a few good Spring Training at bats. But lighten up. It's baseball.
 
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luckysox

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I'm told ST results do not matter and that we are not allowed to be excited by them.

In all honesty, I don't think there is any way he sees the 40 man. Sam Travis will be the 1st call up if there is an issue with first base, and I don't see Craig making it in the outfield, either. There are other guys who cost next to nothing to call up should disaster strike, and who are likely to produce at the same rate as Craig. There's not much in his numbers to take a risk on that 11 million.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I don't think Craig can do anything in spring training by himself to get on the 25-man roster (which is the only way he'll get back on the 40). His only chance to make the team out of camp is the same combo of circumstances that worked for Sizemore...strong performance AND multiple injuries to the right combination of players. Longest of long shots.

However, if he goes to Pawtucket and tears the cover off the ball for a couple months, he would drastically improve his chances of getting back to the big leagues. It would still require injury or significant under-performance to get to Fenway, but maybe he draws the attention of another big league team who finds themselves in need.
 

Saints Rest

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I don't think Craig can do anything in spring training by himself to get on the 25-man roster (which is the only way he'll get back on the 40). His only chance to make the team out of camp is the same combo of circumstances that worked for Sizemore...strong performance AND multiple injuries to the right combination of players. Longest of long shots.

However, if he goes to Pawtucket and tears the cover off the ball for a couple months, he would drastically improve his chances of getting back to the big leagues. It would still require injury or significant under-performance to get to Fenway, but maybe he draws the attention of another big league team who finds themselves in need.
I agree. I think ACs best shot at a return to the Majors is with another team. Best case for Sox is that come summer, you can trade him elsewhere for a PTBNL while subsidizing half the remaining cash
 

MalzoneExpress

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I agree. I think ACs best shot at a return to the Majors is with another team. Best case for Sox is that come summer, you can trade him elsewhere for a PTBNL while subsidizing half the remaining cash
Wouldn't that subsidy then be part of the Luxury Tax calculations? If so, and it pushes them over the threshold, it could be an expensive PTBNL.
 

lexrageorge

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If Craig starts lighting it up down at McCoy, then he at least becomes a trade possibility. I'm not sure the Sox would have to subsidize anything, as the prorated amount of the $11M really becomes less of an issue as the season goes on, and it's basically a short term commitment. Granted, I don't expect the Sox to get much in return.

It would require a bunch of stuff to happen for Craig to make the Sox 40 man, and I doubt a strong spring changes that in any way.
 

reggiecleveland

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On the human side, what if he is back? How much would that suck to be derailed by an injury, then be back to the very good player you were before only to have the economics of the game leave you in the minors?
 

EdRalphRomero

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I'm told ST results do not matter and that we are not allowed to be excited by them.

In all honesty, I don't think there is any way he sees the 40 man. Sam Travis will be the 1st call up if there is an issue with first base, and I don't see Craig making it in the outfield, either. There are other guys who cost next to nothing to call up should disaster strike, and who are likely to produce at the same rate as Craig. There's not much in his numbers to take a risk on that 11 million.
Is this true? I mean I am all aboard the Travis train, so I agree that he is probably first man up if you need more 1b/DH help. But what about the outfield?

Assume the Sox break camp with a 4 man bench:

Young
Holt
Hernandez
Back-up catcher

Who is the next man up if an outfielder gets hurt? Holt is more of a 5th outfielder and they want to preserve his flexibility. Bryce Brentz? Swihart if he is not in the catching mix? Selsky? There are a lot of so-so options but if Craig tears it up through spring and the start of the AAA season, I guess the question would be how much of a barrier his salary would be. I think last I saw the Sox were projected to be $15M below the cap (sound right?). If any of the front 4 outfielders were to get hurt (tongue bitten) and Craig is hitting, I don't know how much the prorated portion of his $11M would be a barrier. I guess what I am saying is that I see a possibility of Craig in Boston if he really can hit again.
 

luckysox

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I don't see it. I think you'd see Selsky up and given a chance before you'd see Craig, unless the guy is carrying a huge AAA OPS for a decent amount of ABs. And I don;t see that as likely. And despite what they might WANT to do with Holt, he'd likely be the guy run out there more often than not, with Selsky up as the 4th outfielder, in the event of the unspeakable. Let's hope we never have to find out.
 

grimshaw

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I don't remember him hitting more than 10 baseballs with any sort of authority during his ML stay here yet - so it's at least interesting that he is doing it with some frequency. It was mentioned before he even got AB's that he looked closer to his old self in BP.

I agree that he has no chance to start the year on the team and is still behind Travis on the depth chart and buried in the OF with no chance.
 
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nvalvo

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If he shows something in the International League, I could see him dealt to the Phillies, for exactly the same reason they were interested in Buchholz. They have a ton of money, are nowhere near the cap, and can risk giving him big league PAs.
 

Rovin Romine

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I see it. Sort of.

If Craig was crushing the ball at AAA, and we had a 1b/DH hole, then yes, maybe, depending on the salary cap and what Travis, et. al., were doing at the time. If Moreland is injured, the Sox could go with Travis at 1B, or Hanley at 1B plus the best available bat at DH. If Hanley is injured, and the Sox need a DH, they just go with their best available hitter, Craig or otherwise. (And it's probably otherwise.)

However, I wonder what Craig's realistic upside is? He's 32 now. He hasn't performed against MLB pitching for 4 years, hasn't fared well in AAA (best half season campaign was 2015 - .749 OPS pre-AS break), and has been repeatedly injured.

When he was a ML player, he seemed to get slightly more exposed with the Cardinals as he progressed from his age 26-27-28 season, which cumulated with his foot injury in August of 2013. He's a RHH and has a slight career split. We could thumbnail his pre-injury baseline as something like a .850 OPS (NL).

If he's able to return to that very old historical baseline, he's likely to outhit Moreland, but be short of Hanley. However, even if he's back to full health and we ignore the last four years, his current upside is probably a more realistic .800 OPS at DH/1B, favoring lefties. In that scenario, he and Moreland might easily be a wash against RHP - and while Craig would still be preferable for LHP, he's not exactly a lefty killer.
 

DanoooME

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I can't see putting a guy with a major foot injury in the OF to run around and increase the odds of re-injury or some sort of cascade injury. Unless the docs want to correct me on that stance.

To me, he has to be a DH or 1B at best.
 

luckysox

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In my thought process on Craig in the OF, I somehow forgot Chris Young existed, and I think his existence makes it even less likely that we see Craig without 2 of the top 3 OF guys going down to long DL injuries. I just wrote out a very convoluted paragraph on all of this, and it dawned on me that if we get to the point where we are talking about Allen Craig coming up, 2 of our favorite and most important players are likely so injured that the season may be in serious jeopardy anyway, and Craig's face will make me want to cry. I hope we don't see him. I hope he rakes in AAA and we trade him so he can go play at the MLB level again, but I hope it never happens here. This season is not supposed to be about the Allen Craigs of the world.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I can't see putting a guy with a major foot injury in the OF to run around and increase the odds of re-injury or some sort of cascade injury. Unless the docs want to correct me on that stance.

To me, he has to be a DH or 1B at best.
Since the injury (late 2013), Craig has played the outfield in at least parts of 133 games between the big leagues and minor leagues, not including spring training. No signs of recurrence of the Lisfranc injury.
 

shaggydog2000

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In my thought process on Craig in the OF, I somehow forgot Chris Young existed, and I think his existence makes it even less likely that we see Craig without 2 of the top 3 OF guys going down to long DL injuries. I just wrote out a very convoluted paragraph on all of this, and it dawned on me that if we get to the point where we are talking about Allen Craig coming up, 2 of our favorite and most important players are likely so injured that the season may be in serious jeopardy anyway, and Craig's face will make me want to cry. I hope we don't see him. I hope he rakes in AAA and we trade him so he can go play at the MLB level again, but I hope it never happens here. This season is not supposed to be about the Allen Craigs of the world.
 

Cesar Crespo

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On the human side, what if he is back? How much would that suck to be derailed by an injury, then be back to the very good player you were before only to have the economics of the game leave you in the minors?
Those same economics were the reason he made any money at all the last 2 years. He'll get over it.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Given the desire of DD to stay under the luxury tax this year, he'd have to hit something like .600 for 200 ABs before he got a call up.

Having said that, I know it's hard to turn down $13M a year for riding buses and playing meaningless ball games, but I wonder if Craig ever seriously thought about renouncing his contract (or negotiating a buy-out) so that he might have a viable route to the majors again.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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The PA would never ever ever ever let him renounce his contract. Hell, the CBA may prohibit that entirely. There's no way they'd want that door to be opened, because they'd (rightfully) fear that teams would start pressuring such players to renounce their contracts in both public and private ways.

As others have said, he's getting paid his money, so I suspect he'll just do whatever the organization tells him to do. For 2017 that's almost certainly riding buses in the minors. He and Rusney can commiserate together.
 

plucy

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His CBT salary is a little over $6mm. He would fit under the tax now, but as many pointed out, where? If he could play third, he could be 25th man. If he can really hit again.
 

joe dokes

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As others have said, he's getting paid his money, so I suspect he'll just do whatever the organization tells him to do. For 2017 that's almost certainly riding buses in the minors. He and Rusney can commiserate together.
Commiserating alone would be difficult. :cool:
 

Saints Rest

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Assuming that there's a disaster coupled with great minor league performances, who gets called up first: Craig or his Cuban doppelgänger Rusney Castillo?
I just asked this exact question in the Rusney thread. Great minds!

But I would make the question even broader: Who see the Majors first, Allen Craig or Rusney Castillo?
 

koufax37

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I have liked the swings this spring (separate from the statistical results), and he has a large sample of past success to correlate with the good swings. But he also has a large sample of more recent failure to prevent overstating the ST success.

I don't think there is any real reason why he cannot return to the elite hitter version of himself, but his prolonged sucking plus economics means he might have to Edgar Martinez his way to a much larger Triple-A sample size before he can be a reasonable trade or call up candidate.

In short, I'm hopeful and cautiously optimistic that this is the first step towards returning to being a valuable major league hitter, but I don't even begin to buy it as meaningful/actionable until he is past the 100PA mark of tearing the cover off the ball at McCoy.
 

joe dokes

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I know he was hurt, but he's 33 in July and has had as many useless seasons as good ones. I'd be stunned if he ever reached "valuable."
 

plucy

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I am amazed that he has only had about 2000PAs in MLB. And in one of his two good years (2.5 WAR per) his BABIP was .368, with a LD% over 26. It's a long way back to mediocrity.
 

BaseballJones

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I just asked this exact question in the Rusney thread. Great minds!

But I would make the question even broader: Who see the Majors first, Allen Craig or Rusney Castillo?
It's kind of crazy. Castillo probably could be a useful major league player for somebody this year, but that contract makes him almost impossible to move. Nobody will pay him that much money to be a "useful" player, and if the Red Sox subsidize a chunk of it, it applies to their luxury tax number (I believe), so they're not going to do that.

How many instances are there in pro sports where the more money a guy makes, the WORSE his contract is? At least in this case, his contract is keeping him from being a major league player.
 

Cesar Crespo

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How many instances are there in pro sports where the more money a guy makes, the WORSE his contract is? At least in this case, his contract is keeping him from being a major league player.
A ton? I think you mean to ask how many instances in pro sports is an athlete good enough to play but his exorbitant salary prevents this from happening. Rusney would literally have to hit at a .900+ OPS clip until the all star break to get a call up. This is why Craig is more likely to see the majors. He'll be a FA after this season and some other team could potentially sign him to a much cheaper deal. Rusney is stuck.

Rusney can hit lefties, play all 3 OF positions and provides speed on the basepaths. He'd easily be a 4th or 5th OF picking up 100+ PA in the majors for some team if not for his contract.
 
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BaseballJones

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A ton? I think you mean to ask how many instances in pro sports is an athlete good enough to play but his exorbitant salary prevents this from happening. Rusney would literally have to hit at a .900+ OPS clip until the all star break to get a call up. This is why Craig is more likely to see the majors. He'll be a FA after this season and some other team could potentially sign him to a much cheaper deal. Rusney is stuck.

Rusney can hit lefties, play all 3 OF positions and provides speed on the basepaths. He'd easily be a 4th or 5th OF picking up 100+ PA in the majors for some team if not for his contract.
Yeah, you articulated better what I was getting at.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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His CBT salary is a little over $6mm. He would fit under the tax now, but as many pointed out, where? If he could play third, he could be 25th man. If he can really hit again.
Is this true (not being snarky)? I mean I know it was $6M before he was outrighted, but I'm curious whether outrighting has any effect on how to calculate the luxury tax implications.

On that note, I also have been assuming that if the Red Sox trade him, then whatever amounts the Red Sox cover would be added to their payroll but I've not been able to find any confirmation. Does anyone know whether this is true and why?
 

Cesar Crespo

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On that note, I also have been assuming that if the Red Sox trade him, then whatever amounts the Red Sox cover would be added to their payroll but I've not been able to find any confirmation. Does anyone know whether this is true and why?
I can't confirm if it's true but it would be because Craig is now on a 40 man roster and/or on a MLB team so his contract counts against the MLB payroll instead of as a minor league expense/contract. The same would happen to Castillo.

If that is the case, it makes you wonder what happens if another team sent Craig down to the minors in the same fashion the Redsox did, thus clearing him from their books. Would it continue to count against the Redsox books? Could a team use this as a loophole to pick up some cash from the Redsox and to demote Craig to get under the salary cap themselves?

I also wonder what recourse Rusney would have if he really wanted to play in the MLB and he and the Redsox were willing to terminate his contract. Could the Players Union really prevent him from doing so? They could put pressure on him but ultimately I don't think they could prevent it from happening. Couldn't he just retire and then make a comeback? I know the Sox would still hold his rights in that scenario, but would they still be obligated to pay him his contract in 2018 and 2019 if he retired in April of 2017 and decided to make a comeback next season or could they just release his rights? In other words, Arod decides he wants to play baseball this season. Do the Yankees have to pay him?
 
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Hank Scorpio

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If the Red Sox were to add Craig back to the 40-man and call him up to the bigs, how much service time would he have to accrue before his consent is needed for a minor league option and removal from the MLB roster?

He would need five years of service time - but I'm not readily finding how much service time he actually has at this point. It's still at least possible he could be recalled for X number of games, and then be outrighted to AAA again, correct?
 

Drek717

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If the Red Sox were to add Craig back to the 40-man and call him up to the bigs, how much service time would he have to accrue before his consent is needed for a minor league option and removal from the MLB roster?

He would need five years of service time - but I'm not readily finding how much service time he actually has at this point. It's still at least possible he could be recalled for X number of games, and then be outrighted to AAA again, correct?
Baseball Reference has him at 4.154. About 85% of a season or approxiamtely 137 games before he'd cross that threshold, and as this is the last year on his deal (other than a team option for 2018) there really isn't anything holding the club back other than luxury tax issues from bringing him up if they see fit. As previously stated his AAV is basically $6M (5 year, $31M deal).

I don't think his call-up is a total impossibility, but he'll need to tear it up in AAA for a solid month and change coupled with either serious injury or under-performance at DH and/or 1B to have any real chance. Sam Travis might have the inside track on him, but Travis doesn't need to be on the 40 man until this December, is coming back from a non-trivial injury last year, and had been jumping levels pretty quickly to that point already. I could see a desire to pump the breaks a bit on his fast rise if Craig is a comparable option to fill a need in 2017.