Red Sox not trading Jarren Duran might've been team's best offseason decision

Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins
Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox considered many trades this offseason to make improvements across the roster. Jarren Duran was one of the more surprising candidates that Boston considered moving.

Duran had an electric 2023 season as the Red Sox's leadoff hitter. He batted .295/.346/.482 and stole 24 bases in 102 games. Many fans questioned why the Red Sox would consider dishing one of their most consistent offensive players, but others attested that his outfield defense was problematic and that his plate production was not replicable. In 2024, he's proving those doubters wrong.

The outfielder is out-performing his 2023 numbers in almost every positive metric on both sides of the ball. He's striking out at a slightly higher clip than last year, but when he gets on base, he usually gets far. Duran has collected an MLB-leading six triples in his 36 games this season and he's knocked eight doubles and a homer on top of them.

The speed merchant is slashing .267/.339/.420 and he and Tyler O'Neill lead their squad with 22 runs scored, each. But Duran's bat hasn't been the star of his recent performances. Duran's defense has improved drastically since 2023.

Trading Jarren Duran would've been a big mistake for the Red Sox

The outfielder ranks in the 96th percentile for outs above average with four so far, according to Baseball Savant. He's racked up an impressive eight defensive runs saved, which is the second-most among all MLB outfielders.

Five of Duran's eight defensive runs saved came while he was playing center field, and his success in that position likely helped give the Red Sox the confidence to move Ceddanne Rafaela to shortstop.

On April 25, Boston's manager Alex Cora announced that Rafaela would transition to the infield to become the team's everyday shortstop. The move has significantly improved the Sox's infield defense — they're still making errors, but the frequency of the infractions has slowed, and for a team that has made 27 errors in 36 games, any improvement is positive.

Had the Red Sox traded Duran before the 2024 season, their defense would likely still be a mess and they would have scored significantly fewer runs without his speed and ability to get on base at a high clip. Duran's electricity at the plate, in the field — and the dugout dance circle — is a must for the Red Sox to continue to win games.

More Red Sox reads: