The Boston Red Sox officially welcomed outfielder Masataka Yoshida to their organization on Thursday afternoon by adding him to the 40-player roster. Yoshida and the Red Sox had previously agreed to terms on a five-year pact worth $90 million guaranteed. In a corresponding move sure to inspire discourse, the Red Sox designated infielder Jeter Downs for assignment.
To make room for Yoshida on the 40-man roster, the club designated INF Jeter Downs for assignment.— Red Sox (@RedSox) December 15, 2022
Downs, 24, was one of the players the Red Sox received as part of the Mookie Betts trade. Along with outfielder Alex Verdugo and catcher Connor Wong, he formed what CBS Sports described at the time as "an underwhelming return" in exchange for "what amounts to the second best player in baseball, an above-average veteran starter, and a considerable amount of money."
Downs' game was always more breadth-based than depth-based. In layman's terms, he had a well-rounded collection of skills, but none registered as high-end. The risk with such players as that they have nothing to fall back on should their offense fail to translate as they climb the organizational ladder.
Sure enough, Downs suffered through two seasons at Triple-A as a member of the Red Sox. In 2021, he posted a .606 OPS; in 2022, that mark improved to .728 (though the team average, it should be noted, was .760). He was promoted to the majors in 2022 for a 14-game stretch that saw him bat .154/.171/.256 (17 OPS+) in 41 trips to the plate.
Downs will now be exposed to waivers. It's conceivable that some other team will claim him and see if they can help him return to his old form. Otherwise, the Red Sox will be able to retain his services by outrighting him to the minors.
Downs hasn't been the only part of the Betts return that has disappointed. Wong has yet to latch on in a meaningful capacity; Verdugo, meanwhile, has accumulated 5.5 Wins Above Replacement in three seasons with the Red Sox. For those wondering, Betts has never tallied fewer than 4 WAR in a full season.