Boston Red Sox: 5 key spring training roster battles

Red Sox catcher Jorge Alfaro
Red Sox catcher Jorge Alfaro / G Fiume/GettyImages
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Boston Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran
Boston Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Red Sox 4th Outfielder (Rob Refsnyder or Jarren Duran)

Barring a big surprise from Wilyer Abreu, or another move, this is likely a 2-man battle for the 4th outfielder. The other contingency is Kiké Hernández at CF and Adam Duvall on the bench, but even still, there is a need for another bench bat.

Rob Refsnyder was incredible last year. He hit for a 143 OPS+ while playing at each spot in the outfield. He also has a canon of an arm - 90th percentile arm strength, per Baseball Savant. As of now, it looks like there is no reason Refsnyder shouldn't crack the Opening Day roster. Sure, he doesn't have a great track record, but he played so well last year that he's worth keeping around.

Jarren Duran, however, could make his case. The former top prospect is yet to prove himself in the majors. It looked like 2022 was going to be his year; in his first 15 games, he was hitting .344/.394/.557 with a .951 OPS on July 2nd. He'd then go 24-for-143 with 51 strikeouts and a .515 OPS in his last 43 games. He was also doing this with some notoriously bad defense. Every metric says he should play good defense - according to Baseball Savant, he's 93rd percentile in Sprint Speed, 69th in Arm Strength, and 69th in Outfield Jump. But OAA (-2), DRS (-9), and UZR (-6.4, -17.6/150) all say he's a poor defender.

If the Red Sox choose to keep Jarren Duran - and the fact he's still on the team suggests they want to - he should probably start the season in AAA. Duran, at this point, needs consistent playing time to figure things out. There's a good chance he comes up later in the season, but it's a make-or-break year for Duran, who's on his last option. With another failed stint, Duran's tenure with the Red Sox could be over.