The Red Sox have lost infielder Jeter Downs on waivers to the Nationals, the club announced earlier Thursday afternoon.
Downs, 24, was designated for assignment last week after the Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for the addition of Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.
Boston originally acquired Downs — as well as outfielder Alex Verdugo and catcher Connor Wong — from the Dodgers in the February 2020 trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles. The native Colombian came into the Red Sox organization as one of its top prospects and a top-100 prospect in all of baseball, but he has since seen his stock fall significantly.
After the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 minor-league season, Downs did not make his organizational debut until last spring with Triple-A Worcester. The right-handed hitter struggled to the tune of a .191/272/.333 slash line to go along with 14 home runs, 39 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases over 99 games (405 plate appearances) with the WooSox in 2021. He then showed some signs of promise in the Arizona Fall League and was subsequently added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November.
Downs returned to Worcester this past season and batted .197/.316/.412 with 16 home runs and 33 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases across 81 games (335 plate appearances). He made his major-league debut in June, but he went just 6-for-39 (.154) at the plate with one double and one home run while punching out in 51.2% of his plate appearances. Downs was sent back down to the WooSox in late July and then suffered a season-ending left ankle sprain on August 18.
The Red Sox, for their part, remained intrigued by Downs’ speed and power and were encouraged by the defensive improvements he has made since being traded. At the same time, though, his high swing-and-miss rates were certainly concerning and were part of the reason why the club ultimately elected to cut him loose.
“This was a tough one,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of the decision to designate Downs last week. “The fact that he was in a position where we considered him and chose him to be designated, I think just speaks to some of the struggles we’ve had getting him on track. I still think there’s a lot of physical ability there but we haven’t been able to unlock it consistently. Certainly know he’s still young and there’s no reason to write him off but he has obviously had some struggles.”
In being claimed by the Nationals, Downs will now be joining his fourth pro organization. He was first drafted by the Reds in 2017 and was then traded to the Dodgers in 2018 before being dealt to the Red Sox in early 2020. Downs does have two minor-league options remaining, so he could be shuttled between Washington and its Triple-A affiliate in 2023.
(Picture of Jeter Downs: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)