Alex Cora might have put Red Sox-Jarren Duran trade rumors to rest

Boston Red Sox Spring Training
Boston Red Sox Spring Training / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Rumors about Boston Red Sox's 2023 breakout outfielder Jarren Duran have been making rounds in the news. The Red Sox reportedly put Duran on the trade block just before spring training and there were a fair few teams interested in the 27-year-old.

A trade involving Duran seemed entirely possible, even likely a few days ago. On Feb. 13, the day before pitchers and catchers had to report to spring training, Boston's manager Alex Cora skirted around a question about Duran playing center field this season. Cora didn't give Duran's name as an option in center, but said Ceddanne Rafaela is a candidate for the job.

"I do believe if Rafaela makes the team he's going to play center field," Cora said. "Then we'll go from there and somebody will win the job during spring training."

Red Sox fans didn't know what to make of this answer — it surely sounded like Cora didn't believe Duran would be on the team for much longer. Now, though, he seems to have changed his tune.

Cora has named Duran as the likely leadoff hitter for Boston in 2024.

“When Jarren was leadoff guy for us, we were probably one of the best offenses in the big leagues,” Cora said. “Obviously, we need him healthy, out there every day. If he’s healthy, that’s my guy.”

Jarren Duran is back in the leadoff spot for the 2024 Red Sox... if they don't trade him

Duran is definitely a qualified leadoff hitter — he stretches singles into doubles and groundouts into hits at an incredible rate. His ability to steal bags also can't be denied. For a team without another consistent power bat, Duran's speed served the Red Sox well last season.

Cora's statement about Duran holding the leadoff spot doesn't fully eliminate any trade rumors. The skipper doesn't get the final say on who stays on the roster or leaves in trades, which is unfortunate for the Red Sox's sake because John Henry and the rest of the front office have not been heralded for their recent decision-making skills. But it certainly sounds like holding onto Duran may be a priority in Cora's eyes.

Duran still has something to prove, though. Hopefully, he'll come out swinging and sprinting in 2024 and show the Sox what they could miss out on if they trade him. Duran made good use of the leadoff spot last year and Red Sox Nation hopes he can do it again.

". . . I can't be satisfied still," Duran said to's Ian Browne once he heard he was back in the leadoff spot. "I’ve still got to come out here like I don’t have a job. That's just not how I'm wired or raised, to take anything for granted.”

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