Who stays, goes, and is fighting for a spot on the Red Sox roster when Adam Duvall returns
Who's fighting for their spot in the Red Sox outfield: Raimel Tapia
One player who has quietly been making some noise, and pushing for a roster spot since spring training, is Raimel Tapia. He hasn't been perfect at the plate this season -- hitting .233 with one home run and four RBI. It sounds like some pretty down numbers for a guy who was starting in center field just a year ago, but he has also scored five runs this season.
Most of those runs, however, have come from pinch-running opportunities that he has been relegated to, and it's because of this that he retains much of his value to the team. If there were a role for someone solely to come off the bench, and pinch-run, he'd be perfect.
Why He Should Stay
One reason that Tapia should stay up with Boston, as opposed to sending him down to Triple-A Worcester, is that pinch-runner role he plays. If the Red Sox were to start in Duran center field one day, you already have speed on the bases.
However, if Duran goes down with an injury, or if the game goes to extra innings, he can be used as a pinch-runner if they have a slow runner on as the ghost runner. There's no denying that he has blazing fast speed - just watch his inside-the-park grand slam for reference AGAINST the Red Sox.
Why He Should Get Sent Down
It's never fun to send a guy like Tapia down to Triple-A because of the potential explosiveness he can bring, but one reason to send him down is how limited his exposure has been this year, and how little he has capitalized on it. Now, if he was hitting .700+ in the 19 games he has appeared in, that would be different, but instead he is a sub .250 hitter, and has struck out twice as many times as he has walked.
In addition to all of this, if he were to stay in the big leagues, it would give Boston an influx of left-handed hitting outfielders with the potential to start. They may not start every game, but it definitely gives more flexibility to manager Alex Cora to have more righties than lefties - especially when he expects to face a string of left-handed pitching.
Overall Outcome: Red Sox outfield stays the same ... for now
On the bright side, the Red Sox don't need to make a decision for another couple of weeks, as Duvall has just gotten out of his cast and started holding a bat on Wednesday.
Even then, once he starts swinging fully, he will begin a rehab assignment in the minors for, presumably, a week or two, and then finally be brought back up. Whether it's directly to play center field or as a designated hitter at first, remains to be seen.