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OTM Roundtable: Is now the time for Jarren Duran?

The question is becoming more and more burning.

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Olympic Qualifiers Exhibition Photo by Rhona Wise/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Red Sox just continue to pile up wins (except when playing the Astros, mostly), but there are still questions on this roster. And while a lot of them have to do with players who are already on the roster, the most brightly burning question right now is just when Jarren Duran will be up. On the one hand, he is tearing up Triple-A, and his trajectory seems unstoppable. On the other hand, they’re winning, so why rush it? I asked the staff this week what their timetable would look like, and if they would want to bring him up now how they’d accomplish that?

Keaton DeRocher

Right now, and designate Matt Andriese for assignment. He entered the week having not been used in nine days, and had a terrible month of May. The bullpen has generally excelled with him on the sidelines, and this would also allow the Red Sox to return to the four-man bench, which I think fits the team much better than the three-man bench. And I’d toss Duran right into the leadoff spot, which has been a blackhole of non-production all season, and see if he can get some things going from the jump.

Michael Walsh

I’m fine with waiting a little while to call up Jarren Duran. The Danny Santana experiment has only been going on for a couple of weeks, and while I don’t have high hopes that he’ll be a big contributor, he deserves more than 13 games to figure it out. With Santana getting his fair shot and the team back to full health, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to rush Duran to the bigs. Additionally, it’s only been 82 PAs for Duran in Triple-A, but he’s striking out at a clip over 25 percent. Sure, he hasn’t played an actual game in two years, he’s shaking off cobwebs, etc. but his strikeout rate in Double-A was also over 23 percent back in 2019. I don’t think these strikeout problems are a death sentence for him or anything, but I’m fine with giving him extra time in the minors to figure things out, especially when the team doesn’t have an immediate need. I’d wait to call Duran up until there’s a pressing matter, such as an injury or if Santana’s struggles continue over a longer time period.

Jake Devereaux

The question of when to bring up Jarren Duran feels like one that has been ever-present this season. It started with his domination of the winter league in Puerto Rico and continued with the failure of Franchy Cordero. Alex Verdugo and Hunter Renfroe have played themselves into surefire full-time roles with this club. The combination of their defense and being consistent offensively has secured that. The role of Enrique Hernández is far less certain with his less than impressive 79 wRC+. That mark is only slightly better than what Marwin Gonzalez is giving you at a 70 wRC+, but I’m not sure Hernández has the better glove at second over Gonzalez, the latter of which has been very impressive this year.

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

I think you need to add Duran to this roster by the start of July if you still haven’t figured out who the leadoff hitter is for this team. This revolving door has not resolved itself yet and shows no signs of resolving itself soon. Duran has speed, power, and an ever-improving approach at the plate and could solve the leadoff issues for this team. He could also play left field allowing Verdugo to shift over to center. To allow this move to happen I would DFA Brandon Workman. I highly doubt he gets it together and becomes a valued part of the bullpen equation. Let’s go back to the four-man bench and have one of Hernandez or Gonzalez starting while the other is on the bench. Duran may struggle, but it’s hard to imagine him giving you less than what Hernandez or Gonzalez is giving you right now.

Shelly Verougstraete

As much as it pains me to say this,I don’t think the Red Sox should bring him up soon. While they have a need to boost the offense, especially towards the bottom of the lineup, Duran just doesn’t fit in right now. Franchy Cordero is demolishing Triple-A right now, so I think he’d get another shot before Duran gets his cup of coffee. I think (and hope) we see him after the trading deadline though. I was thinking the outfield is pretty stacked, even in Triple-A, and maybe someone (like Marcus Wilson) gets moved for a younger prospect not on the 40-man, and that could be Duran’s ticket to be added.

Phil Neuffer

Before Thursday’s game, Red Sox outfielders had a combined wRC+ of 90 and a total of two wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs. That’s not great production and it puts them outside the top 20 in each category. Meanwhile, Jarren Duran was slashing .263/.372/.588 with seven home runs in 80 at-bats in AAA before games on Thursday (he hit a home run on Thursady). Oh, and he also plays the outfield.

To me, there isn’t much use in waiting around to bring Duran up. The Red Sox have been good for too much of the season to ignore a possible solution to their overall outfield offense. Alex Verdugo and (lately) Hunter Renfroe have been fine, but the Red Sox just haven’t gotten enough out of the other guys playing out there. I’m OK if they want to wait a little longer to get Duran a few more AAA plate appearances, but I think they should be prioritizing getting him onto the MLB roster very soon.

Finding space for him won’t be super easy, unfortunately, as not only would he have to take someone’s place on the 26-man roster, but he also needs to be added to the 40-man. I see two potential options. First, while it might seem like an odd move to add another position player and take out a pitcher, I think the Red Sox could DFA Matt Andriese similar to what they did with Austin Brice.

Alternatively, if they want to keep their pitching depth, then it would make sense to DFA someone like Jonathan Araúz, add Duran to the 40-man and, given how much he’s struggled at the plate aside from that awesome home run against the Yankees, use one of Bobby Dalbec’s two options to send him down to Triple-A. With such a move, the Red Sox would be free to promote Duran while giving Dalbec a chance to reset without taking him off the 40-man. The Red Sox could then let Marwin Gonzalez and Danny Santana split first base duties while Duran gets regular time in the outfield. They could also DFA Santana, who has also struggled, but he’s played in fewer than 20 games, so I’m not sure the Red Sox would make such a move that quickly.

Regardless of how they do it, getting Duran on the roster would call for a lot of tough decisions for the Red Sox, but it could be worth it if he lives up to his lofty prospect potential.

Mike Carlucci

I enjoy the Olympics. I enjoy the WBC. These contests are fun and enjoyable for fans of many, many sports - even if the Olympics are often a boondoggle for the host. But with Jarren Duran back from his Olympic qualifiers it’s time to call him up. Designating Phillips Valdez for assignment frees up a spot on the 40-man roster for the outfielder and gives the Sox a fresh look in their lineup. The rotating back end of the bullpen can turn into a position player, sorry currently Brandon Brennan. A .263/.372/.588 line may not be otherworldly in Triple-A but it’s more than enough to show he’s holding his own.

If the Red Sox think he’s ready to start facing major league pitching then starting his service time clock shouldn’t be an excuse for a club that is usually among the top in payroll. I’m still not sold on the Sox as a contender - and getting walloped by Houston doesn’t make them not a team in the top third of MLB - but if they want to hang around all summer, calling up Duran is a good step. He probably doesn’t claim an everyday job with promotion but would likely do so quickly if he succeeds in Boston. It lets Cora deploy Enrique Hernández around the field as needed as a super sub. It helps keep J.D. Martinez at DH. And it’s an early start to the trade deadline by “acquiring” someone from your own minor leagues.

Jake Kostik

I think I actually bring him up right now, not because I think he’s a dynamo who will definitely improve the offense (Triple-A numbers mean very little to me), but rather because I think it would be a good experience for the kid to show what he still has to work on offensively.

WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier - Super Round Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

He hasn’t conquered Triple-A by any stretch, but he has seemingly plateaued for the time being, and there’s little more he can do to show he is ready besides improve defensively. By coming up, major league pitchers will expose his weaknesses, and show where he needs to get better to be a long-term regular. Compare it with the case of Jarred Kelenic. Obviously, Kelenic is a stud with a bright future, but look at what happened when he came up to the major league level. He struggled at an all-time level. Now he has that experience and knowledge which will help him be a better player long-term.

The Red Sox don’t need Duran to be competitive, but I think Duran may need this experience to be a better asset to the team in 2022 and beyond, even if only for a few short weeks.

Brady Childs

This is the most obvious and pressing issue in the organization right now. Yes and you designate Danny Santana for assignment. The Sox desperately need a left-handed outfield bat and he should’ve been up weeks ago. Renfroe and Hernández should both be sitting against tough righties, so it’s better to be able to sit one of them than to sit none of them. The man’s 24. You don’t need to slow-roast a 24-year-old’s development by having him spend three months in Triple-A just because conventional wisdom tells you to. The Mets used to do this all the time much to their detriment. Bring him up ASAP!

Matt Collins

I’ll preface this by saying I am aware this isn’t going to happen, and I see why the team kind of can’t do it. But I would designate Danny Santana for assignment today and bring Duran up. There are legitimate concerns with Duran’s game — the strikeouts and defense, most notably — but they don’t need to wait until he’s a perfect player to call him up. Players can learn on the fly. The fact of the matter right now is he is a better option than Santana, full stop. I have a hard time seeing the other side of that debate. We’re late enough in the season and the Red Sox are in a position such that the only priority should be putting the best 26-man roster together. Development to an extent (when a player is, say, 80 percent developed, the rest can happen in the majors) and especially service time should not be considerations. It’s hard for me to see a scenario in which the best possible roster for this club includes Santana and not Duran. But again, with Santana having such little time in the majors to this point it won’t happen, which is, in my opinion, to the team’s detriment.