In his latest article for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo again mentions the Brewers as one team that has shown a strong interest in acquiring Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig.
It's not news that the Brewers have some interest; Cafardo reported a similar note last week in the same space. But after an uneventful Winter Meetings where most reports had the Brewers sitting around their hotel rooms watching television, it's at least something that there is still some sort of interest at all.
Of course, the Brewers are a footnote this week, when it comes to teams looking into Craig. The Brewers' interest, as noted by Cafardo, took up one line: "Milwaukee also has some interest in Craig in a platoon with Adam Lind." That came after talking about how the Marlins had been talking about the possibility of bringing in Craig to help bolster their team for 2015.
If the Marlins, or another team, wants Craig, it seems likely they will be the first choice. Though the Brewers are intrigued, it's important to note that they don't really need Craig. The Cubs signing Jon Lester brings in another lefty to the division, but most of the Brewers' games will be against right handers. That means Lind will receive something like 75% of the playing time at first base. Some, then, will go to Jonathan Lucroy to give him a break from behind the plate. The remainder is pretty negligible.
Though Craig would be a nice addition -- with the hope that 2014 was an aberration -- the Brewers probably won't be keen to give up as much as other teams might. The Marlins have Garrett Jones at the top of their first base depth chart in a year they hope to compete for a playoff spot. Other teams will also like Craig enough that he would be a probable starter. For the Brewers, he's a bench piece. Milwaukee wouldn't pay as much for a bench piece as other teams would for a starter.
Because of that, the Brewers may only like Craig if they can get him for very little. That would probably need to mean that no other team is willing to make a trade for him. Craig is owed another $25.5 million over the next three years, but is coming off a dreadful year where he hit just .215/.279/.315. If the former All Star bounces back, his contract is a good deal. Though his OPS dropped each year from 2011 through 2013, his stats over that time indicate he is a better player than his 2014 campaign indicates.
In a perfect world, the Brewers would be able to acquire -- and afford -- as good a player as Craig to pair with Lind and serve as a nice bench bat and backup outfielder, as well. But Milwaukee is already near the top of their budget in all likelihood, and the cost for Craig will be higher than they'll likely be willing to pay. What salary room they have left will probably go to a relief pitcher or two.
Allen Craig is a Brewers target, or so the rumors say. But he hardly seems like a major one. Rather, he's a player the Brewers like but for whom they will likely not be willing to give up as much as the Marlins or another team more desperate for a first baseman.