The Red Sox have optioned outfielder Jarren Duran to Triple-A Worcester, reports Chris Cottilo of MassLive. (Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe had earlier reported that Duran’s locker was empty, suggesting such a move had occurred.) The move opens a roster spot for the return of Trevor Story, who’s been activated from the 10-day IL and is in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the Rays.
While the move may be short-lived with rosters set to expand to 28 in a few days, it will represent a disappointment for Duran, a consensus top-100 prospect entering the season. Although by no means entirely overmatched in the big leagues, Duran’s batting line — .220/.283/.365 in 219 plate appearances — fell well short of the stellar .305/.379/.531 line he posted in Triple-A in roughly the same sample.
Meanwhile, the combination of Duran’s demotion and Story’s return could have somewhat of a cascading effect on the Red Sox lineup, likely pushing Enrique Hernandez to more regular duty in center field and Christian Arroyo to first base, at least until Eric Hosmer returns from injury, per Ian Browne of MLB.com. In addition to offering a bit more defensive stability, Story’s return adds some much-needed power potential to Alex Cora’s lineup card, even as Story has limped to a career-worst .221/.289/.423 batting line in his first year in Boston.
Even if Story returns to form, though, the Red Sox would need a minor miracle to salvage what’s been a disappointing season in Beantown. Despite high expectations and a hot start, the club has been beset by injuries to the pitching staff (including to would-be ace Chris Sale, who suffered a broken wrist in a cycling accident just as he’d returned from a series of baseball-related injuries) and currently sits in last place in the AL East and eight games behind the Mariners for the American League’s final wild-card spot.
The Sox also face a rather uncertain future, with J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill and Hernandez all set to enter free agency at season’s end, with Xander Bogaerts an effective lock to exercise his opt-out clause and join them after preseason extension talks broke down. Third baseman Rafael Devers remains under team control through next season but will be a free agent thereafter, also a likelihood given the similar impasse reached between player and club in preseason discussions.