Boston Herald beat writer Jason Mastrodonato was first to report the Boston Red Sox plans to send down the declining Allen Craig. The 30-year-old former St. Louis Cardinals' utility man was a career .300 hitter through eight minor league seasons and the better part of four major league ones before injuries, sharp declines in performance and better options prompted St. Louis to deal him and his back-loaded $31-million contract to the Red Sox last summer in the John Lackey trade that included Joe Kelly.
Mastrodonato also reported the recall of outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who has been tearing it up with Pawtucket this season. In 24 games he's put up a .343/.393/.465 slash line and is currently on a seven-game hitting tear during which he's gone 14-for-30. He was pulled from the team's lineup Saturday against the Columbus Clippers and is expected to join the Red Sox in Toronto for the 1:07 pm EST finale of their three game series there.
The Red Sox had hoped Craig could rebound this season from his 2014 combined St. Louis/Boston .215/.279/.315 slashline. But in 55 plate appearances this season, that line had only accelerated into a death spiral, sitting at.146/.255/.208 and an OPS+ of 33 when the team pulled the plug after he went 0-for-4 against Toronto on Saturday.
The team has publicly said they hope more reps at Pawtucket will help him get his stroke back, which is probably true; but definitely don't mean so they can bring him back up. Rumors have swirled for weeks that the team has tried to move him but could find no takers willing to eat any portion of the more than $25 million still owed to him through 2017. The Red Sox are indeed fortunate he only has four years of service time since, under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, only players with five or more can refuse a minor league option.
So Craig has no choice but to go down and try to find out if he has anything left in the tank to offer. And the Red Sox have no choice but to hope he does so they can try to peddle him and some of his salary to another team. A tall order, to be sure. Whether he does or doesn't, though, he's probably played his last game for the Red Sox.