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What does Kike Hernandez’s new contract mean for Jarren Duran?


Red Sox

Hernandez and the rise of Ceddanne Rafaela could make Duran’s future in Boston murky.

Re-signing Kike Hernandez makes Jarren Duran’s future in Boston murky. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Just a week before signing Kiké Hernandez to a one-year, $10 million deal, the Red Sox were still speaking positively about center field prospect Jarren Duran.

Duran, who recently spoke to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo about his mental health struggles, is batting .220/.283/.365 this season and has bounced between Worcester and Boston. His last stint with the big league club went badly thanks to some high-profile mishaps.

Still, according to Cotillo, the Red Sox had “no way” intended to drop the 26-year-old prospect.

“I respect him for his openness,” Chaim Bloom told Cotillo. “It’s not easy to fall short of what you know you are capable of and it’s even harder to talk about it.

“The better the world, the more people will be willing to be vulnerable and willing to recognize that a lot of things are tough. Life is tough, baseball is definitely tough. We’re not going to make it easier by pretending that it is not true.

Hernandez, meanwhile, can play a few positions, including second base, but he’s excelled defensively at center the past two seasons and seems to have settled into a groove primarily as an outfielder. A year of Hernandez sets the Red Sox up — in an ideal world — for the arrival of Ceddanne Rafaela, whose defensive brilliance in Portland helped him rise to No. 4 in Baseball America’s Red Sox top 30.

Consider this an opportunity to show off a free number of Rafaela highlights.

Rafaela’s rise further complicates Duran’s situation. The 21-year-old – whose ETA is 2023 – isn’t as fast as Duran, but he has plenty of speed and his bat has sparked some interest. MLB Pipeline ranked him No. 100 in MiLB and praised his bat-to-ball skills with “a quick right-hand swing and underhand strength.” Rafaela’s defensive prowess is, of course, evident.

The Red Sox may not have to embark on the Duran era just yet. Hernandez didn’t have a stellar year at bat, hitting just .219/.283/.354 with six homers. He’s only played 68 games so far while dealing with a variety of injuries, but his numbers weren’t good before his injuries either – as Over the Monster noted, Hernandez slashed .209 /.273/.340 before June.

Even if Hernandez is better next season, there is room for more outfielders. Both Alex Verdugo and Rob Refsnyder are on the list. The free agent market is always an option. Duran has struggled to deal with the pressure recently but maybe he can improve if expectations drop a bit. Even though Rafaela is the central player of the future, rebuilding Duran’s commercial value is a worthy goal for Chaim Bloom.

Still, bringing Hernandez back for another season is hard to read as anything other than a vote of little confidence (at best) in Duran’s future with the team unless meaningful improvements happen soon.



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