Red Sox To Sign Adam Duvall

The Red Sox are reportedly in agreement with outfielder Adam Duvall on a one-year, $7MM deal that could reach up to $10MM with performance bonuses, according to Craig Mish of the Miami Herald. According to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo, the performance bonuses are based on plate appearances. The deal is pending a physical. Duvall is a customer of CAA Sports.

Duvall, 34, started his MLB career with the Giants in 2014 and has since bounced around the NL, playing for the Reds, Braves, and Marlins. The highlights of his career thus far were the 2016 season, when he earned an All Star selection with the Reds, slashing .241/.297/.498 (104 wRC+) with 33 homers in 150 games, and the 2021 season, where he earned a Gold Glove award, slashed .226/.287/.513 (107 wRC+) down the stretch for the Braves following a midseason trade from the Marlins, and won the World Series with Atlanta. On the season, Duvall led the NL in RBI with 113 while swatting 38 home runs.

Duvall returned to Atlanta for the 2022 season for his final year of arbitration after being non-tendered by the club just a year prior, but his age 33 season did not go quite as well as his time with the Braves the season prior had. Prior to his season ending with a left wrist sprain in late July, Duvall’s offense regressed significantly. Coming into the 2022 season, Duvall’s career ISO was .241, and his .263 ISO in 2021 ranked 14 among all qualified batters. That power largely disappeared in 2022, however, with Duvall’s ISO shrinking to just .188, just 74th in baseball among players with at least 300 PA. This dip in power saw Duvall’s offensive production crater, as he mustered just a .213/.276/.401 (87 wRC+) line in 86 games, though his solid defense still allowed him to accumulate 0.9 fWAR in that time.

Duvall’s 2022 strikeout and walk rates, in addition to his batted ball profile, stayed fairly consistent with those he posted in 2021, suggesting that Duvall’s power outage in 2022 could simply be due to the change in offensive environment last season, rather than a regression in skills. For a low-OBP slugger like Duvall, the loss in power is certainly concerning regarding his ability to play as an average bat on an everyday basis. That being said, Duvall still crushed lefties to the tune of a .233/.282/.562 slash line (129 wRC+) in 2022 while posting a strong +5 OAA in just half a season of playing time split mainly between left and center field, showing he does still have value even if his power doesn’t return to its pre-2022 form.

With offseason acquisition Masataka Yoshida manning left and Alex Verdugo set to play right field, Duvall seems like a likely platoon partner in center field for Jarren Duran as the roster is currently constructed, whose meager .221/.283/.363 (78 wRC+) slash line in 2022 was held down by a massive platoon split: Duran slashed just .184/.238/.211 against lefties for Boston, good for an unplayable wRC+ of only 22. Against righties, however, his .229/.293/.398 slash line was nearly league average with a wRC+ of 91. Duvall and Duran manning center would allow Enrique Hernández to play the infield, covering for the loss of Xander Bogaerts in free agency and Trevor Story to injury. Should Boston add enough infield help that Hernandez can play center field full time, as he did in 2022, Duvall can complement the lefty bats of both Yoshida and Verdugo coming off the bench.

Even after an offseason that saw Boston extend Rafael Devers for $313.5MM and add Yoshida on a five-year, $90MM deal along with smaller pacts with Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Corey Kluberand Chris Martin, Chaim Bloom’s front office still has more to do ahead of Opening Day, even after signing Duvall. The top priority going forward has to be addressing the middle infield, where Hernandez can capably play everyday, but the top option to be his double play partner is Christian Arroyo. Short stop Elvis Andrus, who Boston reportedly has interest in, is the best middle infielder left on the free agent market. That being said, Josh Harrison and perhaps even Jurickson Profar remain as potential options at second base and the Red Sox have reportedly explored the trade market for infield help as well.

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