Former big league first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig has joined the Padres’ front office as an advisor to the baseball operations department, reports MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell (via Twitter). The move officially brings Craig’s playing career to a close.
Though Craig, 34, hasn’t been in the Major Leagues since 2015 with the Red Sox, he’d yet to hang up the spikes. He was in camp with the Padres on a minor league deal this spring and appeared in six games, and he spent the past three seasons with the Triple-A affiliates for Boston (2016-17) and San Diego (2018).
Craig’s peak in the Majors was brief but impactful. His 2010 rookie season didn’t stand out in any way, but he burst onto the scene in 2011 when he raked at a .315/.362/.555 clip and belted 26 extra-base hits (11 homers, 15 doubles) in just 219 plate appearances. Craig played a key role in the Cardinals’ postseason exploits that season as well and was rewarded with a World Series ring. He’d follow up that strong year with a highly productive .307/.354/.522 slash and 22 homers over an even larger sample of work (514 plate appearances) in 2012.
That sample was enough for the Cards to invest in Craig on a five-year extension back in Spring Training 2013. He made the move look like a bargain with another strong year in 2013, hitting .315/.373/.457 and landing his first (and only) All-Star nod.
Following that three-year peak in which he batted a combined .312/.364/.500 (136 OPS+), however, Craig’s bat completely evaporated. After suffering a Lisfranc injury late in 2013, he slumped through a woeful first half of the season in 2014 and found himself traded to the Red Sox alongside Joe Kelly in the deal that sent John Lackey to St. Louis.
Hitting .215/.279/.315 at the time of the trade, Craig saw his troubles grow even more pronounced with his new team. In 195 plate appearances with Boston from 2014-15, he mustered just a .139/.236/.197 line before being designated for assignment and outrighted off the 40-man roster. He’d finish out his extension in Triple-A before landing with the Padres in the 2017-18 offseason.
It’s not fully clear what Craig has in mind for the next phase of his career. As an advisor to the baseball ops department he could follow the path recently taken by former Rays right-hander Brandon Gomes, who is now an assistant general manager with the Dodgers. That’s but one of many roads to explore in retirement, though; current Astros manager A.J. Hinch worked in the San Diego front office, for instance, providing another potential blueprint for Craig’s post-playing days.
Whatever “The Wrench” has in store for him, he’ll embark on that journey with a career .276/.333/.435 batting line, 59 home runs, 107 doubles, three triples, 239 runs scored and 296 runs knocked in over the course of 534 big league games. Brief as his career was, he earned about $32MM as a player, made an All-Star team and captured a World Series ring — a successful slate of accomplishments if there ever was one. Best wishes to him in the next chapter of his baseball career.