Boston Red Sox: Top 3 position battles to watch during Spring Training

Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (19) Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (19) Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /
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Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox center fielder Jarren Duran (40) Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox position battle No. 1: Outfield

The most chaotic position battle for the Sox is going to be in the outfield. Two positions are taken care of with Alex Verdugo and Kike Hernandez, but the third one is up for grabs. Where those two will play in the outfield remains to be seen, but we can rest assured that both Hernandez and Verdugo will be in the lineup everyday once the season starts.

From there it’s much less certain. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jarren Duran appear to be in competition for the starting role when the season starts up, with Bradley appearing to be in the lead at the moment. Franchy Cordero also lurks as a potential challenger, although it would probably take an inspired Spring Training campaign for him to really be considered.

Then there’s the possibility of guys like Christian Arroro or Bobby Dalbec making the switch to the outfield to help the lineup. Bradley cannot be counted on to produce at the plate anymore (he hit just .163 over 134 games last season) and Duran struggled in limited action last season as well. Both Arroyo and Dalbec offer more at the plate, while Bradley or Duran would be a better fielding fit.

Much of this depends on how serious both Arroyo and Dalbec would be about making a position change. Arroyo said he would be willing to play outfield if Boston signed Story in free agency, and well, they did. Having Arroyo’s bat in the lineup over a guy like Bradley’s would be huge. The fielding drop off would be significant, but you could conceivably hide Arroyo  or Dalbec under the Green Monster at Fenway Park and get away with it for the most part.

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Even if Arroyo or Dalbec were to make the change, it’s unlikely they would start the season off right away, but rather get gradually introduced to the position over time. Between Bradley and Duran, it would probably take a lot for Duran to overtake Bradley, but Duran has a pretty good shot at making the roster as a bench player to start. While Bradley seems likely to win an Opening Day spot, it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone else take his spot by the end of the season.