Duvall, 34, signed with the Sox in January to help them cover center field. His deal came with a $7MM guarantee and incentives based on plate appearances. With shortstop Trevor Story having undergone elbow surgery, their plan was to move Enrique Hernández from center to shortstop, with Duvall and Raimel Tapia brought aboard to help out in center.
Through eight games, Duvall had apparently activated god mode, hitting .455/.514/1.030. Unfortunately, he then suffered a fractured wrist and wasn’t able to return until June. Since then, he’s hit a far more earthly .211/.279/.395. That’s been a running theme for Duvall, who has occasionally looked great at the plate but has also been held back by injuries. He hit 38 home runs in 2021 but then followed that up with diminished results last year while missing roughly half the season due to wrist surgery.
But the fact that the Phils are interested is sensible. As mentioned, they are looking for a right-handed bat, which would be a good fit for their lineup. They have many lefties getting regular action, with Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Bryson Stott, Brandon Marsh and Jake Cave all hitting from that side. Adding another right-handed bat into the mix could allow the club to shield some in that group from lefties on occasion, either by platooning or pinch-hitting.
From the Red Sox’ perspective, they aren’t under any obligation to trade Duvall. He is an impending free agent, but they are in the thick of a postseason race, 2.5 games behind the Blue Jays and Astros for a Wild Card spot. It was reported yesterday that the club has no interest in trading Justin Turner, who is also likely to hit free agency this fall by declining a player option. The Sox could take the same approach with Duvall and simply hold him for their playoff push.
But there’s also a case for cashing him in, if they get a compelling offer. While Duvall was on the injured list, Jarren Duran seemingly cemented himself as a viable major leaguer in center. The 26-year-old struggled in his first tastes of major league pitching but has broken out with a .311/.363/.500 showing this year, stealing 21 bases to boot with roughly average defense. Alongside Masataka Yoshida and Alex Verdugo, the Sox could consider themselves set in the outfield.
All three of those guys hit from the left side, so perhaps Boston could still utilize Duvall as a right-handed complement to them. But they already have Rob Refsnyder on the roster for essentially the same reason. He’s hit .358/.475/.457 against southpaws this year and .276/.381/.390 in his career. He and the club already agreed to a contract for 2024 with a club option for 2025. Each of Yoshida, Duran and Verdugo are either under contract or club control next year as well.
Perhaps the Sox would consider moving on from Duvall and rolling with that group as its outfield mix, maybe exchanging him for pitching or a prospect. It’s unclear if the Sox have interest in that but they have already reportedly received interest from Atlanta and now Philadelphia as well. If the Phillies can’t get a deal done on Duvall, other options include Tommy Pham and Randal Grichuk. The trade deadline is August 1.