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Sox add outfielder Adam Duvall – Boston Herald

The Boston Red Sox are in agreement with outfielder Adam Duvall on a one-year, $7 million contract. Performance bonuses could increase his salary to $10 million.

Pending a physical, this will be Duvall’s first foray into the American League. The 34-year-old spent the first nine years of his big-league career in the National League, debuting with the San Francisco Giants in 2014, and then playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and then Braves again. He was an All-Star with the Reds in 2016 and won a Gold Glove and World Series ring with Atlanta in 2021.

Throughout his career, Duvall has shown a propensity to strike out significantly more (28.5%) than league average (21.9%) and is well below average at drawing walks (6.7%). However, he’s hit 30+ home runs three times in nine years, most recently in 2021, when he set a career-high 38.

That power is something the Sox need — Rafael Devers was the only Sox hitter with more than 16 HR in 2022 — but Duvall’s HR% dropped from 6.9% in 2021, to 3.8% last year. After putting together a .241 ISO between 2014-21, his isolated power plummeted to .188 before a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist ended his season. Over 86 games, he hit .213/.276/.401 with 16 doubles, 12 home runs, 39 runs scored, and 36 RBI.

Defensively, Duvall brings a lot to the table. He’s ranked in the 67th percentile or better in speed since Statcast began tracking the metric in 2015. His arm strength, a newer stat, ranked in the 77th or 78th percentile in each of the last three seasons, and he’s been in the 88th percentile or better in Outs Above Average four times in the last six years.

How will the Sox use him? If they want his bat in the lineup consistently, they’ll have to play musical chairs with the outfield. Duvall spent the majority of his career in left field (566 games), but also has 190 appearances combined between right (115) and center (75).

Alex Verdugo spent the bulk of 2022 (and his career) in left field, but newcomer Masataka Yoshida projects to be the starting left-fielder. Super-utilityman Kiké Hernández could move from centerfield to the infield, but the middle is Duvall’s least-familiar outfield spot, one he only began covering in 2020.

At Rafael Devers’ extension press conference, manager Alex Cora revealed that former top prospect Jarren Duran will get another chance to prove himself, but the 26-year-old centerfielder hasn’t impressed offensively or defensively in his 91 big-league games over the last two seasons.

Fenway Park’s tricky outfield dimensions complicate matters; the center-field triangle and right-field corner aren’t for the faint of heart.

For the second offseason in a row, the Red Sox are gambling that a roster full of question marks will result in the right answers. This team could come together in a big way; they have several World Series champions in their ranks, former All-Stars and a Cy Young arm.

Yoshida’s projections are promising. The bullpen upgrades are significant: Kenley Jansen led the NL in games finished and saves last year, and Chris Martin owns the lowest walk-rate of any active pitcher (min. 200 innings).

They have Devers — now without the threatening storm cloud of an uncertain future — and, best-case scenario, a Rookie of the Year candidate in Triston Casas. Brayan Bello exceeded rookie limits last year, but has been training with Pedro Martinez this winter.

But for the first time since August 2013, they don’t have Xander Bogaerts. Nathan Eovaldi and JD Martinez, linchpins of their most recent championship, became free agents and headed west. Trevor Story’s UCL procedure earlier this month could keep him out for the entire season. Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck are both returning from season-ending surgery. Chris Sale missed all but 5 ⅔ innings last year, and hasn’t pitched a full season since 2017. Of the seven major-league signings they’ve made thus far, six are 31 or older. Yoshida is the lone signee in his 20s, but he’s never played in the majors before.

In other words, a lot has to go right for this team. But individually and collectively, this group has something to prove. In Boston sports, that’s always a dangerous factor.

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