The Red Sox have an overabundance of outfield options after signing Hanley Ramirez to play left field, while the Marlins lack the offense from first base they need in a lineup that is mostly set. These two items are now related, as the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer reports that the Marlins are interested in acquiring Red Sox outfielder Allen Craig in order to create a platoon at first base.
There is no room for Craig in Boston as of this writing. Unless the Red Sox were to trade away both Yoenis Cespedes and Shane Victorino, there isn't even necessarily a bench spot for Craig, as you could argue the Sox would prefer Daniel Nava's lower cost and recent stronger track record with health. Craig could certainly have his uses if his foot has healed and the problems with his swing that injury caused are gone, as Craig was a force for the Cardinals for a few years, but that's the kind of thing the Sox were more intrigued by prior to signing Ramirez as well as Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo. Now, Craig can be a trade piece in the right deal, as the first base market is nonexistent, and there are still teams like the Marlins who could use an upgrade at the position.
Can the Red Sox afford to keep Shane Victorino?
A $13 million bench bat is usually the sign of a contract gone horribly wrong, but Shane Victorino might fit perfectly into Boston's plans for 2015.
The Marlins have a lineup mostly full of young players who are already good or should be as they develop further, but at first base, they have platoon bat Garrett Jones. The right-handed Craig is a career .285/.323/.514 batter against lefties -- it's where most of his career slugging has come from -- while Jones is a .267/.333/.479 hitter against right-handers but owns a 573 career OPS against southpaws.Combine those two together in a strict platoon, and the Marlins would have themselves a better situation at first than most. They would't be al that expensive, either: Jones is making just $5 million in 2015, the last year of his deal, while Craig is at just $5.5 million.
Craig's deal goes up significantly in 2016 and 2017, to $9 million and then $11 million, but the Marlins can easily afford that -- adding payroll like Craig's in the present is precisely why Giancarlo Stanton requested that his $325 million contract extension be heavily backloaded. Plus, if Craig returns to form with Miami -- he hit .306/.358/.492 in the four seasons prior to his rough 2014 -- then they can easily get away with playing him as the full-time first baseman instead of as the short end of a platoon.
It's a decision that would help the Red Sox in the present, as they probably need to shed a little payroll, and don't necessarily have the roster space for Craig right now. Craig could be useful to the Red Sox in the future, sure, but their outfield is set for at least the next four seasons if they choose to retain all three of Ramirez, Castillo, and Mookie Betts, and the coming hole at first base could just be refilled by re-signing Mike Napoli after 2015. At this point, Craig might be most helpful to the Red Sox as a trade chip.