The Red Sox will formally add Downs to their 60-man roster pool Tuesday or Wednesday, Chris Cotillo of The Springfield Republican reports. The 21-year-old Downs is the Red Sox's top infield prospect, with most of his minor-league action to date coming at shortstop. With Xander Bogaerts entrenched at that position, however, Downs' most realistic path to a full-time role in the majors comes at second base, where Michael Chavis and Jose Peraza currently check in as the top options on the depth chart. Boston is likely content to proceed with that duo manning the position in 2020, but if Chavis, Peraza or Bogaerts ends up missing extensive time for whatever reason, Downs could get his first taste of the big leagues. Downs reached Double-A at the tail end of 2019 but spent most of the campaign in High-A, slashing .276/.362/.526 with 24 home runs and 24 stolen bases between both levels.
Downs has made 82 starts at second base during his minor-league career, Christopher Smith of MassLive.com reports. Downs is primarily a shortstop, but that spot on the Red Sox is locked up by Xander Bogaerts (six-year contract). As such, Downs' quickest path to the majors is at second base, where the Red Sox are unsettled in the long term due to Dustin Pedroia's knee injury. Developmentally, Downs' estimated time of arrival to MLB is 2021, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the organization give him more time at second base at Double-A Portland, then at Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Dodgers have agreed to send Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Downs to the Red Sox in exchange for Mookie Betts and David Price, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. Downs spent most of the 2019 season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, hitting .269/.354/.507 with 19 home runs, 78 runs scored and 75 RBI in 479 plate appearances. The 21-year-old also stole 23 bases for the Quakes. Downs was considered expendable while playing below elite middle infield depth within the Dodgers' organization, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic. The change of scenery early in the shortstop's career may provide Downs with a more favorable opportunity to climb the minor league ladder during his next few seasons.
Downs has received an invitation to the Dodgers' major-league spring training, Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA.com reports. Downs will get a taste of big-league pitching after proving capable against his competition at High-A and Double-A in 2019. Given the Dodgers' depth, Downs -- who is not on the team's 40-man roster -- could spend all of 2020 in the minors.
Downs went 4-for-5 with three solo home runs and a double for Double-A Tulsa in Game 2 of the Texas League Championship Series on Wednesday. Downs upped his postseason batting average to .344 (11-for-32) in the 18-9 rout while raising his long-ball total to eight in his first 19 Double-A games (regular season and postseason combined). The 21-year-old was acquired from the Reds last December and has quickly become one of the top prospects in the Dodgers organization by slashing .276/.362/.526 with 24 homers, 86 RBI and 24 steals in 119 games between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa this season.