Allen Craig was outrighted to Pawtucket yesterday. By and large, there's little difference for the Red Sox between an outrighted Allen Craig and an optioned Allen Craig. By outrighting him, Craig was removed from the 40-man roster, yes, but for the Sox, the 25-man roster was the real issue, and he was already in Pawtucket free-and-clear before being exposed to waivers. They certainly didn't need space on the 40-man roster, since as it stands they have just 37 names for their 40 spots, and that's including Brandon Workman, who could easily be moved to the 60-day disabled list.
There are, however, some small benefits to be found. And Alex Speier has done just that in his 108 Stitches newsletter:
First, as long as he's outrighted off the 40-man roster, Craig doesn't count against the luxury tax threshold, meaning that the Sox could save hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps to reinvest in the payroll) unless he rejoins the big league roster. Secondly, if Craig isn't added back to the major league roster by the end of this year, he has the right to declare free agency anytime between the end of this season and the following Oct. 15. However, in order to do so, he'd have to forfeit the $21 million he's owed after this year.
For now, at least, the benefit of removing Craig from the 40-man is fairly minimal. The Red Sox were already over the CBT threshold, remain over without Craig, and if they do find themselves in a position where there's a move out there to improve the team, the ~$4.5 million they'll save against that figure and the ~$750,000 in actual tax savings aren't going to be the difference makers.
Going into the future, however, that money could prove important. The Red Sox project to be a good $60 million under the CBT threshold in the coming offseason, and if they still have to pay Craig's salary, having his money "off the books" as it were could well help them reset their tax rate by getting under for a year.
For those looking at the last bit Speier mentions and dreaming of a Craig-free Red Sox team, don't get your hopes up. It should come as no surprise when I say few and far between are those who would trade $21 million for a shot at a slightly better situation, particularly since, if the Red Sox have not added him to the roster by year's end, it will likely be a sign that he's not exactly showing major progress in Triple-A.
Still, if the real upside to all this is that the Red Sox no longer have to really worry about Allen Craig, then having his contract out of the CBT calculations is the final piece in that puzzle. If he comes back and performs like the All-Star he once was, that's great. In the more likely scenario that he never does, the Red Sox don't have to concern themselves with anything more then a few checks.