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Cardinals sign Allen Craig to $31 million contract extension

Mar 8, 2013, 10:50 AM EDT

San Francisco Giants v St Louis Cardinals - Game Four Getty Images

Allen Craig was very productive as a part-timer in 2011 and had a breakout year stepping into the starting lineup last season, and now the Cardinals have locked him up long term.

Craig has agreed to a five-year contract that includes a team option for 2018, so he’s now under the Cardinals’ control through age 33. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the deal is worth $31 million in guaranteed money.

While technically a five-year deal, the contract includes this season and then covers all three of Craig’s arbitration-eligible seasons (2014-2016) plus his first season of free agency (2017). And then the Cardinals get an option year on his second season of free agency (2018).

It’s a big commitment to a guy who didn’t play regularly in the majors until age 25, but Craig has been one of the best hitters in baseball over the past two seasons while batting .309 with 33 homers, 50 doubles, and an .889 OPS in 733 plate appearances. Among all MLB hitters with at least 600 plate appearances during that time Craig ranks 12th in batting average, 14th in slugging percentage, and 18th in OPS.

  1. tmhofficial - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Interesting. Would like to see the numbers, as it seems like they may have jumped the gun a bit… If they got him locked in for below market value, then well played. But if it’s lucrative, couldn’t they have waited to see if his bat upholds those stat lines?

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      Dude can flat out hit. He has always hit. If there is one thing he can do…it’s hit.
      Have I mentioned that he is a pretty good hitter? If not…well…he is a good hitter.

      • indaburg - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        What do you think about his hitting?

      • spudchukar - Mar 8, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        Just to add a little clarity, the dude can fucking hit!

      • tmhofficial - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        I’m going to laugh when he regresses after the small-ish sample size. Though the money isn’t bad, all things considered, so even if he does flop they’re not out much.

      • paperlions - Mar 8, 2013 at 7:22 PM

        Good luck with that….you see, even though MiLB stats have some flaws, if a guy maintains his performance among levels with the same underlying peripherals and then translates that to over 850 PAs at the MLB level….well, then you actually have a pretty large sample size.

        Craig was drafted in 2006. He has raked every year since then, at every level, with similar K rates, BB rates, BABIP, and ISO. In other words, the guy he has been in MLB is exactly the same as the guy he was for 4 years before that as he moved up through the system.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 8, 2013 at 7:32 PM

        The thing about using his MiLB stats is that he was old for just about every level he raked in. Obviously his MLB performance has been exemplary, but it’s not really fair to say his minor league performance projected this kind of success.

      • forsch31 - Mar 9, 2013 at 1:09 AM

        Actually, he wasn’t old for his level for most of his minor league career. Craig got blocked while he was in Memphis for three seasons, from age 24 to 26, and was also trying to learn a different position, since he wasn’t a very good 3rd baseman (his original position). Craig racked at every level; it’s what kept him a real prospect despite his lack of full-time position.

  2. Jackson - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Scooped him up in my fantasy baseball draft the other day, yeah buddy.

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 8, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Scoop this up for your fantasy league.
      Sorry…that was un-called for.
      Piss on your fantasy league.
      Nope…still no good.
      Good pick-up. Your fantasy league will get it’s just reward.
      Now…only if it weren’t fantasy.

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 8, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        Jeesh! Lighten up people. It was a joke. Possibly a bad joke. But a joke nonetheless.
        It’s Friday. We are fittin’ to get our weekend on!

      • stex52 - Mar 8, 2013 at 4:59 PM

        No sweat, SLB. We all throw stuff at the wall to see if it sticks occasionally. No one will remember tomorrow.

        I’ve done worse.

  3. carbydrash - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    I guess this puts Matt Adams on the market. Poor guy, he’s done nothing but mash in the minors (but…you know, with a big, slow moving body and poor walk rate that may erode some of his value).

    Aside from being awesome, Craig also seems like one of more likable guys in the game. I’m glad he’ll be around for a while.

  4. thomas844 - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Coming from a Reds fan, I will say Craig is by far baseball’s most underrated player. I think in 2013 he will be even more dangerous than Holliday and Beltran (he arguably already was in 2012). Good move by the Cardinals locking him up.

  5. stlouis1baseball - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Great job Mo. All Hail Torti!

  6. sfm073 - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Craig can rake, he’s done it his entire professional career. The problem with him has been staying healthy.

    • salvomania - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      Not “staying healthy” is less Craig’s fault than it is the unpadded corner of the outfield wall in, what was it, Cincinnati? That’s how he hurt the knee that finished his 2011 and kept him out through April of last year.

    • paperlions - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      That hasn’t really been an issue throughout his career. If he doesn’t slam his knee into the wall chasing a foul ball in 2011, he has no injury history at all…as that same injury led to lost time in 2011, and 2012 (since surgery was postponed until the off-season).

      • paperlions - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        Seriously?

        Why do people think he has a problem staying healthy? Except for the one knee injury because of running into the wall, he’s always been fine….including through his MiLB days.

      • spudchukar - Mar 8, 2013 at 2:14 PM

        Correcto PL, and it was in Houston where the sorry-assed wall/fence extended into foul territory.

  7. okwhitefalcon - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    I’m a little surprised but not totally I suppose.

    AC’s got to stay healthy, simple as that – if he does he’s worth the commitment.

    As far as it “putting Matt Adams” on the market, not so fast.

    They absolutely love the guy and see value in him a lefty off the bench (for now) and a very capable first base option if they decide to give AC a day off or AC moves to the outfield occassionally to spell the likes of Beltran and Holliday.

    • bigleagues - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      I agree. But its also worth noting that the Cards have a pitching need and Matt Adams could be a valuable trade chip to that end.

      • paperlions - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        Huh? What kind of pitching the Cardinals need? They don’t have enough spots for the guys they’ve got right now.

        The Cardinals need a SS…..and that is pretty much it.

      • bigleagues - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        You should know by now when I’m posting in tr0ll mode.

      • paperlions - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:31 PM

        Sorry, my troll detector is on the fritz.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        I know you guys have all been drooling over Profar, but isn’t Andrus much more realistic? Cards definitely have the depth to land him with gutting their system, and while he’s only under contract for two more years, they’re two more dirt cheap years.

      • paperlions - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:35 PM

        I think they already asked about Andrus at the winter meetings and the response was, in no uncertain terms, “He is not available.”

    • paperlions - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      Yeah, this has no effect on Adams at all. Craig was going to be a FA in 4 years….and wasn’t going anywhere in the meantime….this contract has no bearing on Adam’s status…just gave the Cardinals some cost certainty.

      • stlsportsfan84 - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        This is much more about getting the ducks in a row w/ Waino than anything else. Adams was only in the plan if OT could play CF (which i haven’t heard anyone say that is a good idea). Trade chip was the most likely path for Adams no matter what happened w/ Craig.

  8. stlouis1baseball - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    I agree with Kevin in regards to Andrus. With Profar (and the Rangers) chomping at the bit to get him playing time Elvis might be attainable without breaking the bank and/or future prospects.

    • okwhitefalcon - Mar 8, 2013 at 3:54 PM

      If he were available (and that doesn’t seem to be the case) the asking price on Andrus would astronomical – he wouldn’t come on the cheap.

      Start with at a combo of at least 2 of the high end pitching prospects and a position player and that might get them to answer the phone..

  9. blues1988 - Mar 8, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    i will never forget on game 7 of the world series in 2011 i was at mike shannons (a bar right next to busch) and we heard fireworks coming from the stadium before a pitch had even been thrown to craig. it took a moment, but then the whole bar realized that he had just homered to take the lead and we erupted before we even saw it on tv. we all watched and then erupted a second time. it was awesome!

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 8, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      This one time…at band camp. Hahaha! Just joking Blues. Great memory for sure.
      Wish I could have been at Mike Shannon’s with you!

  10. paperlions - Mar 8, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    So…..the Cardinals will get 6 years of Craig at 1B (including 2012) for the price of 1.25 seasons of Pujols at 1B. I’d take that deal.

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 8, 2013 at 2:31 PM

      Me too Paper. And I thought I would never say such a thing. Well…I didn’t say it. But you get the idea.

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