It's been three months since the Red Sox outrighted Allen Craig to Triple-A Pawtucket, removing him from both their 25- and 40-man rosters in one fell swoop. Now, Ken Rosenthal speculates that, with Dave Dombrowski freshly installed as the president of baseball operations, the Red Sox look to get him back in the majors come September call-ups.
I, for one, am skeptical.
As it stands, Craig has done little to suggest that anything has changed since he was sent down. His time in Pawtucket has produced a line of .271/.367/.348, and while that's certainly much better than he managed in inconsistent major league playing time, the reality is that he is facing far inferior competition, and still not hitting for any power. Strike-zone judgement is a useful tool, but it only goes so far when pitchers aren't afraid to throw you strikes.
"Still," you might ask, "what's the harm?"
The harm is in money and playing time. As it stands, the Red Sox are still on the hook for Craig's contract, but by removing him from the 40-man they've managed to get him out of the calculations for the luxury tax, which has, in the past, represented the soft cap for the Red Sox payroll as a whole. They're not hard-and-fast with that rule, but even if they're flexible, the benefit of seeing Craig struggle even worse against major league pitching than he has in Pawtucket seems not worth the cost of even just $6 million added to that figure.
That's not really a big issue, though. Really, if he struggled again, they could just repeat the earlier process. Craig might choose to leave the organization entirely should that happen, but honestly, it wouldn't be much of a loss at this point.
More important is the loss of playing time for more important players. Craig is a first base/outfield player, and while it's not the worst idea to have another first baseman to back up Travis Shaw for the two or three days off he should still have coming his way this season, the outfield is already overfilled as is, and certainly doesn't need another player getting in the way of Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. starting as many games as they can.
As is, the Red Sox have three interesting-but-inexperienced players who should be getting as much playing time as they can between now and the offseason. Both to give the Red Sox as much information on their abilities as possible, and to get them ready for 2016 if, indeed, they're part of that puzzle.
Craig, sadly, is over that hill. Maybe there's some miracle rejuvenation in his future, but it won't come at the end of a long season which has never seen him impress. It will come at the end of an offseason where he was able to get fully healthy, and knowing how these things work, probably in pinstripes. If it's something that Dave Dombrowski needs to see to believe, Pawtucket isn't that far away.