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Could Allen Craig come back to the Cardinals?

Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo has an interesting suggestion about how the St. Louis Cardinals should solve their first base problem.

The scribe believes it would be mutually beneficial for both clubs if Allen Craig was sent back to the Redbirds to fill the hole left in their lineup when Matt Adams was lost for four months with a quad tear.

Craig, 30, was a fan favorite in St. Louis and before his 2013 foot injury, he was a major run producer in the middle of the St. Louis lineup. But he’s been unable to recover and Craig currently is in Class AAA where he’s been trying to regain his stroke.

The first baseman and outfielder was batting only .135 with one homer and two RBIs before the humbling demotion. But, since then, he’s .328 with a home run and four RBIs in 72 minor league plate appearances. He’s struck out 10 times and walked 10 times.

The results are somewhat encouraging. But is he getting back on track, or is he hitting better because of lesser quality pitching?

The Red Sox passed Craig through waivers and took him off their 40-man roster before the demotion in hopes another team would claim him. But the reason none did is the reason it’s tough to imagine him back in a Cardinals uniform: Craig is owed the balance of $5.5 million this year, $9 million in 2016, $11 million in 2017 and $13 million for 2018. That’s a lot of money for a gamble.

It’s more than a team would have to pay to pick up Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard who is owed about $55 million on the remainder of his deal, but the Phillies have reportedly said they’d pay two-thirds of that total to deal him away.

It’s unknown how much Boston would pay toward Craig’s contract. But it would have to be more than 75 percent to get the Birds to bite. In fact, I think the best chance Craig would end up in St. Louis again would only come if Boston released him and made him a free agent. Then he could be had for the major league minimum.

It remains to be seen if Craig will be thrown on the trash heap. I don’t see him rehabilitating his trade value to a point that any team will take his contract. But Boston is a very tough place for a player to make a comeback. Especially if that player doesn’t have a positive history with the Red Sox.

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