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Milliken: Jarren Duran vs. Wilyer Abreu? The Red Sox outfield of the future

Development of the young core has been arguably the biggest focus of the 2024 Red Sox, with Jarren Duran and Wilyer Abreu at the forefront on the position player side of things. Rather quickly, the organization has developed a surplus of young outfielders, ranging from Ceddanne Rafaela, who recently signed an 8-year, $50 MM extension, to Roman Anthony, who is regarded as a consensus top 30 prospect in baseball. Figuring out how all these pieces fit is going to be a crucial part to forming the next contender in Boston. It’s fair to wonder if Craig Breslow and company envisioned Duran taking another significant step forward after last year’s breakout. He’s continued to look like an above-average bat with a .273/.344/.439/.783 slash line and 118 OPS+ in 44 games, which is right in line with last season’s 121 OPS+. But defensively, he’s transformed his game and is looking like an elite center fielder thanks to the work he’s been putting in behind the scenes with Kyle Hudson. For some fans, the nightmarish struggles Duran endured in center field back in 2022 never left their mind, but he did improve in 2023. He registered in the 57th percentile for Outs Above Average and finished with -6 Defensive Runs Saved. Nobody was ready to hand him a Gold Glove, but he showed himself to be capable of handling the position, even if the organization seemingly preferred him in left field. BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 18: Jarren Duran #16 of the Boston Red Sox runs towards third base after hitting a two-run RBI triple against the Cleveland Guardians during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on April 18, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images) You only have to go back to the Trevor Story injury in early April to see how hesitant the Red Sox were to take Ceddanne Rafaela out of center field on a daily basis. Duran was being viewed as so much of a downgrade at the position that they preferred David Hamilton at shortstop. It didn’t take long for Duran to absolutely crap on that line of thinking, with him ranking in the 97th percentile for Outs Above Average and totaling 10 Defensive Runs Saved (6 in CF, 4 in LF).

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