The Red Sox are among the teams pursuing free-agent outfielder Adam Duvall, as first reported by Chris Henrique of Beyond the Monster. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweets that a resolution on Duvall’s free agency, be it him signing with the Sox or another club, could come as soon as this week. The Red Sox, Cotillo adds, view Duvall as “plenty capable” of playing center field.
Slotting Duvall into the center field mix alongside left-handed-hitting Jarren Duran would allow Boston to shift Enrique Hernandez back to the middle infield, in the wake of Trevor Story’s recent elbow surgery. Duvall doesn’t have pronounced platoon splits — he draws slightly more walks against lefties but hits for similar power and has an identical .230 average against lefties and righties — so it’s possible that he could even be thrust into center field on a regular basis, if the Sox are comfortable with the defensive component of that fit.
Duvall, 34, has elite defensive grades in left field in his career but has just 593 innings in center field — most of which came with the Braves over the past two seasons. He’s fared well there, too, logging four Defensive Runs Saved and five Outs Above Average in that limited time.
With the bat, Duvall has clear plus power, but he’s never gotten on base much and has also grown increasingly strikeout-prone in recent years (30.4% over the past four seasons). His 2022 season was cut short by a torn tendon sheath in his wrist, leaving him with an ugly .213/.276/.401 batting line and a dozen homers in 315 trips to the plate. Duvall smashed 38 home runs as recently as 2021, but that was accompanied by his typical blend of low average and OBP marks; in 555 plate appearances for Atlanta in ’21, Duvall hit .228/.281/.491.
That’s par for course for Duvall, a career .230/.289/.465 hitter who has thrice topped 30 home runs in a given season and also has a 2021 Gold Glove Award under his belt. If he’s back to full strength last year’s season-ending wrist surgery, he could give the Red Sox a much-needed right-handed bat in a lineup where only Hernandez, Justin Turner and Christian Arroyo project for regular reps. Bench options like Bobby Dalbec and Rob Refsnyder could give Boston some additional righty bats on days they face a left-handed starter.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said last week that following Story’s injury, he’d likely seek multiple up-the-middle additions to the lineup. Duvall, assuming he plays center field, could fit that billing, but the Sox would likely still have other additions in store. Boston was also connected to former Rangers, A’s and White Sox infielder Elvis Andrus over the weekend. Boston currently projects to have a payroll of about $183.5MM next season and has a bit more than $209MM in luxury-tax obligations on the books — both of which are well shy of last year’s totals.