9:35 am: While Duran’s promotion still significantly reduces Jackie Bradley Jr.’s playing time. may mean – and perhaps the end of his time in Boston – it seems that the precipitating factor for Duran’s return to the majors isn’t Bradley’s poor offensive output, but Kiké Hernández may be contracting a COVID infection. According to an updated version of the same story, Speier reports that Hernández’s initial tests came back negative, but he continues to show symptoms that indicate a possible infection.
Hernández is expected to stay away from the team until his symptoms ease and Red Sox medical staff are convinced he is not positive for COVID. Players may be placed on the COVID-19 IL without testing positive, provided they show symptoms or have been exposed to the virus. As the COVID-19 IL has no minimum duration, Hernández can return as soon as he feels better and it has been confirmed that he is not positive for the virus.
9:23 am: After failing to keep up with the Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays in the first month plus of the 2022 season, the Red Sox may be preparing to shake things up. Citing unnamed sources, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports that outfielder Jarren Duran will join the premier league club at Fenway Park tonight for the series’ opening game against the White Sox. The corresponding move is not yet known.
It will be Duran’s second taste of the majors, who recorded a meager .215/.241/.336 triple-slash in 112 appearances in the premier league in 2021. He’s headed for a blistering .370/.460/.574 start in 63 at bats at Triple-A Worcester though, and Sox Brass will hope he can boost an offense currently ranked 27th (ahead only Oakland, Kansas City and Cincinatti) with a team wRC+ of 82.
Even if they continued to roll out the same lineup, the Boston stalwarts could probably expect an offensive improvement simply by rolling back the average. Four Sox regulars — Trevor Story† Alex Verdugo† Kike Hernandezand Christian Vazquez — have built a track record of meaningful production and are not yet old enough to account for a significant decline. It’s an ill-timed confluence of slumps to be sure, but there’s no reason to expect Alex CoraChaim Bloom and Brian O’Halloran to do everything but watch and wait for four of those four to break out of their early season swoon.
They’re much less likely to keep seeing their names on Cora’s lineup cards as first baseman Bobby Dalbec (who is facing pressure from the 22-year-old top prospect) Triston Casas) and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., whose place Duran might take tonight. After eight productive years in Boston (including an ALCS MVP feat and a 2018 World Series title), Bradley’s production collapsed after signing a $24 million two-year deal with the Brewers ahead of the 2021 season. was traded (along with prospects) David Hamilton and Alex Binelas) back to Boston for outfielder Hunter Renfroe just before this season’s lockout, but his numbers have barely recovered. In 508 at bats between Milwaukee and Boston, 32-year-old Bradley has a measly .166/.239/.261, including just a .181/.253/.264 output this year; he had cut a much tastier .239/.321/.412 for the past eight seasons. Of course, these aren’t the numbers a team with championship aspirations would expect from a regular, even one that provides consistently high-quality defense in the wacky Fenway Park outfield.
With the accompanying move not yet known, it’s unclear whether Duran’s call marks the end of Bradley’s time in Boston. Should the Sox choose to part ways with the much-loved outfielder, they will remain on the hook for the roughly $8MM left over from his $9.5MM 2022 salary, as well as the entire $8MM buyout of his mutual option for 2023. The team can also choose to use rarely used spare Franchy Cordero (who has an available option) or one of the fourteen pitchers currently on the active roster for the minors. Regardless of what the move means for Bradley’s future, Sox fans can probably expect at least a slight increase in outfield production — just without a familiar face in the lineup.