BOSTON -- When Adam Duvall smoked three homers at Fenway Park on Sept. 2, 2020, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom couldn’t help but wonder what type of damage the right-handed-hitting slugger could do if he played in Boston full-time.
The next season, Bloom tried to acquire Duvall at the Trade Deadline. But Duvall was instead traded from the Marlins to the eventual World Series-champion Braves.
On Tuesday night, Bloom at last got his man, signing the veteran outfielder to a one-year, $7 million deal, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Duvall can also earn up to an additional $3 million in performance bonuses.
“Very, very excited to have Adam on board here,” Bloom said. “A player we've liked for a while. When we were in the recruitment process for him, I told him he was very much on our radar at the Deadline in 2021, and that all kind of happened around the same time, and he went to Atlanta and Kyle [Schwarber] came to us. But [he's] a guy whose skillset we've liked for a long time. He loves hitting at Fenway. We've seen it way too much in other uniforms. Hopefully, he'll love it just as much in our uniform.”
In a Zoom call on Wednesday, Duvall sounded as if he could hardly wait to start taking aim at the Green Monster, beginning with Opening Day on March 30 against the Orioles.
"It's definitely something that I look at and find intriguing and get a little bit excited about, because I am a guy that prides myself on pulling the ball in the air," Duvall said. "So I definitely think I can use that to my advantage. I've been working on my swing all offseason. I'm excited to take what I've got into that ballpark and into that league and try and put some barrels on the ball."
Duvall is equally excited to join a tradition-rich team in Boston, especially after a strong recruiting pitch from Bloom, manager Alex Cora and several players, including Kiké Hernández and Justin Turner, who is also a new addition to the Red Sox this winter.
"There were actually several selling points," Duvall said. "One, the opportunity to play every day, the chance to be part of an organization that has a lot of tradition and has had a lot of success and a lot of good players, [a good] manager, so that was a huge selling point there. Another selling point was guys reaching out from the team and around the organization letting me know that they were looking forward to playing with me. It was a culmination of different things but I couldn't’ be more excited to be playing with the Red Sox and be a part of this ride."
By adding Duvall, a power hitter and a highly skilled defender in the outfield, the rest of the position-player puzzle has come into focus for Bloom. Duvall is expected to be Boston’s primary center fielder. Hernández will be the starting shortstop after playing center his first two seasons in Boston.
With Xander Bogaerts departing to the Padres via free agency and Trevor Story out indefinitely following surgery on his right elbow, the Red Sox were left with vacancies at both middle infield positions. Story had planned on moving back to shortstop before he instead had to undergo an internal bracing procedure on his elbow.
To help address their middle infield, the Sox acquired oft-injured infielder Adalberto Mondesi in a trade with the Royals on Tuesday. Christian Arroyo will also get time in the middle of the diamond.
Duvall has started 68 games at center in his career, but he is confident in his ability to handle full-time duties there, even with the quirky dimensions of Fenway.
"I think the biggest challenge will be the dimensions, and I've even thought about going back and watching certain plays in how I can kind of learn to play the ball off the wall and the ball in the gap and those things before I even step foot in the stadium," Duvall said.
One thing that helps is that JetBlue Park, where the Red Sox play their Grapefruit League games, has the same outfield dimensions as Fenway.
"There will be a small learning curve there, because it's a very unique park," Duval said. "Anyway I could familiarize myself with it would be huge."
The Red Sox wouldn't have signed Duvall without believing he can handle center field.
"It doesn’t have to be all on him, but he can be a really big part of the solution out there," Bloom said.
In Duvall, the Red Sox are getting a 34-year-old who was limited to 86 games with Atlanta last season due to a sprained right wrist and slumped to a .677 OPS to go along with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs.
Duvall is healthy going into Spring Training.
“He’s fine,” Bloom said. “Surgery ended his season last year, but that was a fairly common procedure when that type of injury happens. He’s full-go. He’s doing everything he should be doing at this point in time. We will, I’m sure, take care of him as he ramps up for spring, but full-go and expecting no delays.”
Duvall’s numbers just two years ago make him a viable bounce-back candidate. Splitting the 2021 season between the Marlins and Braves, Duvall ripped 38 homers to go with a National League-leading 113 RBIs.
“He’s got tremendous power, and that’s something that for however long Trevor is out, we may be a little lower on, so the ability to change the game with one swing is something that he has,” Bloom said. “It’s the type of right-handed power that I think could play really well in this park. It’s true plus power where he can mishit balls over the Monster, and he can drive balls out the other way. He has the ability to do all of that."