First, we trade all the pitchers. That's apparently the game plan with Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington.
Boston started the cycle last weekend, sending Jake Peavy to San Francisco. And it's intensified this week: Felix Doubront went to the Cubs on Wednesday, and Jon Lester and John Lackey moved Thursday. (Keep your bags packed, Andrew Miller. You're probably next.)
The contending Cardinals moved for Lackey, thrilled to slot him as their No. 3 pitcher going forward (or their No. 4, if Michael Wacha can make it back). Lackey revitalized his career with a surprising comeback last year (3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP), and he's been in the same area this season (3.60/1.23). Those ratios figure to drop in the pitcher-friendly environment of the National League; I'm slotting Lackey as a $15 option from this point forward. (For context, here's last week's Starting Pitcher Shuffle Up.)
Lackey has a cheap contract for 2015 (just 500K), which is a main reason why the Red Sox were able to get a strong return for a 35-year-old pitcher. That said, Craig has become a maddening fantasy player, and someone who's difficult to value at the midpoint of his career.
Craig was a solid fantasy bat in 2012 and 2013, hitting over .300 and producing 189 RBIs. But his slugging percentage fell 65 points last year, and he's collapsed all the way down to .237/.291/.346 this year. He's also a liability in other ways, a poor baserunner and so-so fielder. Although the Cardinals didn't say much about it, it's been speculated that Craig has been playing hurt much of the year. The crummy stats make you wonder.
Craig now becomes part of a muddled Red Sox lineup. Yoenis Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley, and Brock Holt are other outfield options (Holt could easily slip into a utility role), while Mike Napoli marks first base and David Ortiz is the DH. John Farrell has plenty of options (maybe too many) with his lineup card. Granted, depth is a good thing to have. You can always balance things in the offseason.
For the rest of the year, let's call Craig a $10 fantasy bat. But if he's healthy next spring, he could be one of the best buy-lows of the 2015 season. It's reasonable for Boston to take a shot on him.
With Craig gone, buzzy prospect Oscar Taveras figures to get a regular job with the Cardinals. He's been a disappointment to this point, but come on, he's 22. The pedigree leaps off the page. He should be owned in more than 23 percent of Yahoo leagues. Check the wire, gamers.
Kelly is an interesting righty, with a mid-90s fastball and some major-league success to this point in his career. Maybe we'll look to stream him on the right evening. Granted, that sounded like a reasonable plan Wednesday at San Diego, and the Padres had a field day. So it goes. If Kelly settles in as Boston's No. 4 or No. 5 option long-term, the team would probably consider it a win.
Trades are fun. Keep them coming, MLB.