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.
The Yankees interviewed Aaron Boone for their managerial vacancy on Friday, and today it was Chris Woodward’s turn. That makes at least five interviews since the offseason began, and Woodward’s likely won’t be the last.
Like fellow candidate Eric Wedge, whom the Yankees interviewed just last week, Woodward has never played or coached for the club. He spent the majority of his 12-year career with the Blue Jays and picked up brief stints with the Mets, Braves, Mariners and Red Sox before returning to Toronto for his final season in 2011. Following retirement, he served as the Mariners’ minor league infield coordinator and infield and first base coach from 2012-2015. During the 2015 offseason, he jumped over to the National League to work with the Dodgers as a third base coach, and saw his first postseason run since the Mets lost to the Dodgers in the 2006 NLDS.
While Woodward has yet to manage at the major league level, he was named manager of the New Zealand national team during the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers. It’s certainly conceivable that the Yankees would prefer a candidate with significant experience leading a major league team, but right now the only person who fits that bill is Eric Wedge — and, well, it’s Eric Wedge.