Red Sox designate relief prospect Franklin German for assignment

The Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster after acquiring Richard Bleier from the Marlins for Matt Barnes and cash considerations on Monday. They cleared that spot by designating relief prospect Franklin German for assignment.

German, 25, was regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking seventh among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally acquired the right-hander from the Yankees alongside veteran reliever Adam Ottavino in January 2021.

After beginning the 2021 minor-league season as a starter with Double-A Portland, German ultimately moved to the Sea Dogs’ bullpen and found success in a relief role. That success carried over to the 2022 campaign, as German earned German a promotion to Triple-A Worcester last May.

In 32 relief appearances with the WooSox, German posted a 2.58 ERA with 46 strikeouts to 16 walks over 38 1/3 innings of work. He pitched to a miniscule 1.54 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .431 OPS against from July 6 through September 14, which resulted in him getting called up by the Red Sox three days later.

German got lit up for four runs while failing to record an out in his big-league debut against the Royals at Fenway Park. He then allowed runs in his next three outings before ending his season with a scoreless appearance against the Blue Jays on October 2. All told, the righty posted an ERA of 18.00 (eight earned runs in four innings) to go along with four strikeouts and four walks.

Despite the rough showing in his first go-around at the big-league level, German was named the 2022 Red Sox Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year after forging a 2.72 ERA and 64:19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 43 appearances (49 2/3 innings) between Portland and Worcester. He also compiled a 1.88 ERA (three earned runs in 14 1/3 innings) for the Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League.

The Red Sox will now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive German, who took part in the club’s rookie development program last week. Given that he does not turn 26 until September and still has three minor-league options, it seems likely that German will draw trade interest from other teams in need of relief help.

Though he lacks major-league experience, German does possess a three-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a changeup. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound hurler hovered around 97.7 mph with his four-seamer last season, per Baseball Savant.

It comes as somewhat of a surprise that German lost his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster given his standing as an intriguing prospect. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, though, the decision to designate German shows that the Red Sox are high on (and do not want to risk losing) other relievers like Ryan Brasier, Zack Kelly, Wyatt Mills, and Kaleb Ort.

(Picture of Franklin German: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox designate Connor Seabold for assignment

The Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster before making the signing of veteran starter Corey Kluber official on Thursday afternoon. They did so by designating fellow right-hander Connor Seabold for assignment.

Seabold, who turns 27 later this month, was regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranked seventh among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally acquired the California native from the Phillies alongside Nick Pivetta in the August 2020 trade that sent relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia.

For the better part of the last two seasons, Seabold has served as upper-minors rotation depth for the Red Sox. He posted a 3.50 ERA in 11 starts (54 innings) for Triple-A Worcester in 2021 and followed that up by producing a 3.32 ERA in 19 starts (86 2/3 innings) with the WooSox in 2022.

Unfortunately, that success has not translated to the major-league level as of yet. Seabold made his big-league debut in September 2021 and made five additional starts for Boston last season. In those six outings, the righty allowed 25 earned runs on 38 hits, 10 walks, and 19 strikeouts over 21 1/3 cumulative innings of work. That is good for an ERA of 10.55 and FIP of 6.82.

Seabold has dealt with his fair share of injuries in his time with the Red Sox organization. He was sidelined with right elbow inflammation during the early stages of the 2021 campaign and spent time on the injured list with a pectoral strain and right forearm extensor strain in 2022. Perhaps as a result of those arm issues, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound hurler averaged just 92.1 mph on his four-seam fastball in the majors, per Baseball Savant.

With the addition of Kluber, the Red Sox have only further bolstered a starting rotation mix that already included Chris Sale, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, Brayan Bello, James Paxton, and Tanner Houck. When you add others like Josh Winckowski, Kutter Crawford, Bryan Mata, Chris Murphy, and Brandon Walter, Seabold undoubtedly became more expandable.

The Red Sox now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Seabold, who has one minor-league option year remaining and could be of interest to other clubs as a result. If he clears waivers, the Red Sox would be able keep Seabold in the organization without committing a 40-man roster spot to him.

Regardless of his fate, though, Seabold becomes the latest in a long line of players to be lopped off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster this winter. He joins the likes of Eduard Bazardo, Yu Chang, Franchy Cordero, Tyler Danish, Jeter Downs, Eric Hosmer, and — most recently — Darwinzon Hernandez.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox designate former top prospect Darwinzon Hernandez for assignment

The Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster in order to make the signing of infielder/designated hitter Justin Turner official on Friday afternoon. They cleared that spot by designating reliever Darwinzon Hernandez for assignment.

Hernandez, 26, originally signed with the Red Sox for just $7,500 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in August 2013. Despite receiving a modest signing bonus, it did not take the left-hander all that long to establish himself as arguably the top pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Heading into the 2019 season, Hernandez was ranked by Baseball America as the Red Sox’ No. 3 overall prospect. The Bolivar native made his major-league debut that April before making his first career start against the Rangers less than two months later.

Hernandez spent another month in the minor-leagues before being recalled again in mid-July. In 27 appearances out of Boston’s bullpen from that point forward, Hernandez posted a 4.32 ERA — but much more respectable 2.81 FIP — with 46 strikeouts to 20 walks over 25 innings of relief.

On the heels of a relatively strong rookie campaign, it appeared as though Hernandez had momentum heading into 2020. But a bout with COVID-19 in July and a left AC joint sprain in August limited him to just seven outings (8 1/3 innings) during the pandemic-shortened season.

To his credit, Hernandez bounced back in 2021 by making a career-high 48 relief appearances. While his 3.38 ERA and 29.7 strikeout rate were undoubtedly solid, Hernandez did walk 31 batters in 40 innings of work, which led to him having a 4.80 FIP.

With those discouraging peripherals in mind, Hernandez was left off Boston’s Opening Day roster last April and began the 2022 season with Triple-A Worcester. The burly lefty then sustained a torn right meniscus in May that required surgery. After a lengthy recovery period, he returned to the Red Sox in July but struggled to the tune of a 21.60 ERA (16 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings) before being sent back down in August.

Hernandez did not fare much better with the WooSox down the stretch, as he yielded nine runs (eight earned) with 10 strikeouts to nine walks across nine appearances (eight innings) through the end of the minor-league season. He returned to his home country this offseason and produced a 3.86 ERA in 19 outings (16 1/3 innings) for the Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League, but he still issued nine walks to the 74 batters he faced in that time frame.

Given his well-documented control issues (32.3 percent career walk rate in 85 1/3 big-league innings) , it seems as though the Red Sox were ready to move on from Hernandez if the occasion arose, as it did on Friday. Boston will now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Hernandez and keep him in the organization without committing a 40-man roster spot to him.

Hernandez, for his part, does not turn 27 until next December and still has one minor-league option remaining. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound southpaw also possesses upside in the form a high-octane four-seam fastball, a mid-80s slider, and a high-70s curveball. Taking all those factors into consideration, Hernandez could very well draw interest from a team in need of bullpen depth and be traded or claimed off waivers in the coming days.

Regardless of his fate, though, Hernandez becomes the latest in a long line of Red Sox players to be cut from the club’s 40-man roster this winter, joining the likes of Eric Hosmer, Jeter Downs, Tyler Danish, Eduard Bazardo, Abraham Almonte, Franchy Cordero, and Yu Chang.

After removing Hernandez and adding Turner on Friday, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is still at full capacity. They will need to clear another spot once the signing of veteran starter Corey Kluber is made official.

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose Jeter Downs on waivers to Nationals

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)

Red Sox acquire Wyatt Mills from Royals, designate Eric Hosmer for assignment

The Red Sox have acquired right-hander Wyatt Mills from the Royals in exchange for relief prospect Jacob Wallace, the club announced on Friday. In order to make room for Mills on the 40-man roster, first baseman Eric Hosmer was designated for assignment.

Mills, who turns 28 next month, was designated for assignment himself earlier this week. The righty split the 2022 season between the Mariners and Royals and posted a 4.60 ERA — but much more respectable 3.62 FIP — with 26 strikeouts to 13 walks over 27 appearances spanning 29 1/3 innings of work.

A former third-round draft pick of the Mariners out of Gonzaga University in 2017, Mills first broke in with Seattle in May 2021. He pitched to a 9.95 ERA and 4.35 FIP with 11 strikeouts to seven walks across 11 outings (12 2/3 innings) last season and opened the 2022 campaign at Triple-A Tacoma.

The Mariners recalled Mills in late April and he proceeded to put up a 4.15 ERA (3.46 FIP) with six punchouts to three walks in his first eight appearances (8 2/3 innings) of the season before being traded to to the Royals with fellow righty William Fleming in exchange for Carlos Santana on June 27.

With Kansas City, Mills produced a 4.79 ERA and 3.69 FIP with twice as many strikeouts as walks (20-to-10) over two stints and 19 appearances (20 2/3 innings) out of the Royals bullpen down the stretch this season. The 27-year-old lost his spot on the Royals’ 40-man roster when the club signed left-hander Ryan Yarbrough to a one-year, $3 million contract on Tuesday.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds, Mills possesses a sidearm delivery and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a low-90s four-seam fastball, a low-80s slider, and a low-90s sinker, per Baseball Savant. The Washington state native held opposing hitters to a .167 batting average against with his four-seamer (his most frequently-used offering) this year.

Mills has one minor-league option remaining and is not arbitration-eligible until 2026. He owns a lifetime 2.60 ERA over 62 1/3 career innings at the Triple-A level and figures to provide the Red Sox with some additional bullpen depth in 2023, if not beyond.

Going back to Kansas City in exchange for Mills is Wallace, the 24-year-old relief prospect the Red Sox originally acquired from the Rockies as the player to be named later in the August 2020 trade that sent Kevin Pillar to Colorado.

Wallace, who hails from Methuen, Mass., spent the entirety of the 2022 season with Double-A Portland. The right-hander out of UConn. forged a 3.81 ERA and 5.81 FIP with 76 strikeouts to 49 walks over 47 relief outings (56 2/3 innings) for the Sea Dogs. He was a candidate to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster last month, but was left off and was passed over in last week’s Rule 5 Draft. SoxProspects.com had Wallace as the No. 45 prospect in the organization, noting that his command and control need significant refinement.

Finally, we arrive at Hosmer, who was designated for assignment in order to make room for Mills on the 40-man roster. The Red Sox acquired Hosmer (as well as minor-leaguers Corey Rosier and Max Ferguson) from the Padres for pitching prospect Jay Groome in early August.

Hosmer appeared in just 14 games for Boston and batted .244/.320/.311 with three doubles, four RBIs, and six runs scored. The 33-year-old was placed on the injured list with low back inflammation on Aug. 21 and did not return until the final series of the season against the Rays.

While Hosmer was sidelined, the Red Sox called up top prospect Triston Casas from Triple-A Worcester. Casas, a left-handed hitting first baseman, slashed .197/.358/.408 with five home runs and 12 RBIs across 27 games (95 plate appearances) to close out the season. Considering the fact that Casas and Hosmer both hit from the left side of the plate and primarily play first base, the latter became somewhat redundant this offseason thanks to the former’s emergence in the fall.

The Red Sox will now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Hosmer, who opted into the final three years and $39 million of his contract last month. As part of the deal that sent Hosmer from San Diego to Boston, though, the Padres agreed to pay the remainder of Hosmer’s salary down to the major-league minimum. That means that another club could claim Hosmer off waivers without needed to make much of a financial commitment to him moving forward.

Hosmer, who does not turn 34 until next October, did gain a full no-trade clause when he was dealt from the Padres to the Red Sox over the summer, so he would have to approve a move if Boston elects to trade him. The Red Sox could also elect to simply release Hosmer since the Padres remain on the hook for the bulk of his contract through 2025.

Following Friday’s series of moves, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is now at full capacity.

(Picture of Wyatt Mills: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Red Sox trade Hoy Park to Braves for a player to be named later or cash considerations

The Red Sox have traded infielder/outfielder Hoy Park to the Braves in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the club announced on Friday.

Park, 26, was originally acquired from the Pirates last month in a trade that sent pitching prospect Inmer Lobo to Pittsburgh. The native South Korean was designated for assignment for the second time this offseason when the Red Sox needed to clear a 40-man roster spot in order to make the signing of closer Kenley Jansen official on Tuesday.

After spending the last three days in DFA limbo, Park now finds himself with his third organization of the winter and the fourth of his professional career. The former Yankees prospect first broke in with New York in 2021 before being traded to Pittsburgh with Diego Castillo for All-Star reliever Clay Holmes last July.

Park appeared in 44 games for the Pirates down the stretch last season and batted .197/.299/.399 with three home runs, 14 RBIs, and 16 runs scored. The left-handed hitter spent most of this past season in Triple-A and only managed a .216/.276/.373 line with two homers, six RBIs, and seven runs scored across 23 games (60 plate appearances) with the big-league club in Pittsburgh.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Park — who turns 27 in April — has proven to be quite versatile during his brief time in the majors, as he has already appeared in at least one game at every defensive position besides pitcher, catcher, and first base. The Red Sox were intrigued by Park’s ability to play multiple positions, but ultimately decided to move on despite the fact that he has two minor-league options remaining.

The Red Sox and Braves will now have the next six months to decide on which Atlanta minor-leaguer will be dealt to complete this deal. If the two sides are unable to come to an agreement, the Braves will send cash to the Red Sox.

(Picture of Hoy Park: Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chaim Bloom on decision to designate Jeter Downs for assignment: ‘This was a tough one’

The Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster in order to make the signing of Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida official on Thursday. They did so by designating infielder Jeter Downs for assignment.

Downs was one of three players — along with Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong — acquired from the Dodgers in the February 2020 trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles. The then-21-year-old was viewed as the top prospect in the deal after batting .276/.362/.526 with 24 home runs and 24 stolen bases between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa in 2019.

Coming into the 2020 season, Downs was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 86 prospect in all of baseball. He spent the entirety of that summer at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket after the minor-league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic but then made the jump to Triple-A Worcester last spring.

Downs entered the 2021 campaign ranked by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 71 prospect in the sport. The right-handed hitter saw his stock drop significantly after batting just .191/.272/.333 with 14 home runs, 39 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases over 99 games (405 plate appearances) in his first season with the WooSox. He did, however, post an .880 OPS in the Arizona Fall League and was subsequently added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster last November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

After a disappointing 2021, Downs fell off Baseball America’s top 100 list completely but was still regarded by the publication as the No. 19 prospect in the Red Sox organization. He once again broke camp with the WooSox this spring but still struggled to find his footing at the plate even while repeating a level.

In 81 games with the WooSox this year, Downs batted .197/.316/.412 with 11 doubles, one triple, 16 homers, 33 runs driven in, 56 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 99 strikeouts across 335 trips to the plate. He made his major-league debut in June but hit just .154 (6-for-39) with one home run, four RBIs, four runs scored, one walk, and 21 strikeouts over 14 games before being sent back down to Worcester in late July. On August 18, Downs suffered a left ankle sprain that prematurely ended his season. He returned to action in the Puerto Rican Winter League, but managed a meager .146/.263/.188 slash line in 16 games with the Indios de Mayaguez before being released by the club earlier this month.

Despite the fact that he is still just 24 years old and was once, the Red Sox elected to designate Downs for assignment less than three years after trading for him. The decision to cut bait with Downs carries more weight when the other two players from the Betts deal have not exactly panned out, either. Verdugo, for the most part, has been an average outfielder in each of the last three seasons while Wong has accrued 70 big-league plate appearances over the last two seasons and projects to be a backup catcher as opposed to a starter.

As a former first-round draft pick who has been involved in two blockbuster trades, Downs was thought to have a ceiling that matched or even exceeded that of Verdugo, a former top prospect himself. He has instead shown that he is not yet able to handle major-league pitching, as evidenced by his dismal 51.4 percent strikeout rate and 41.7 percent whiff rate in a limited sample this year.

When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom acknowledged that although the decision to designate Downs was a tough one, the fact that he was part of the Betts trade did not factor into it.

“I don’t think it changes what the decision is, because ultimately we have our responsibility to every player in this organization to make the right decision by all of them when we’re making decisions for the organization,” Bloom said. “No doubt he was a big part of a really significant trade. That we haven’t gotten him to the level we expected hurts. But at the end of the day, we want to do right by all of our players and he was the right decision, we thought, in this case.”

Downs, who does not turn 25 until next July, has two minor-league options remaining. While he has regressed offensively over the last two years, Downs did make strides defensively and can play both middle infield positions adequately. He also possesses intriguing power and speed, which will no-doubt make him of interest to other teams despite his concerning swing-and-miss rates against experienced pitching. The Red Sox will have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Downs, who can be outrighted to Triple-A if he clears waivers.

“We knew, adding Masa, that we’d have a tough decision to make,” said Bloom. “That’s where we are with our 40-man. This is a good thing for the roster but there are only tough decisions from here on out. And this was a tough one. 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.”

Though Downs did struggle with the Red Sox this season, he did enjoy a few memorable moments. His first career hit led to a walk-off win over the Yankees at Fenway Park on July 9. He then hit his first home run off Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium eight days later.

“I’m glad he was able to get to the big leagues with us,” Bloom said. “I was glad he was able to have a moment with us here at Fenway and help us win a big game. That was a lot of fun for a lot of people. But obviously, we haven’t been able to get him to that success as consistently as anybody would have liked, least of all Jeter.”

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Masataka Yoshida signing official, designate Jeter Downs for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida to a five-year contract that runs through the 2027 season, the club announced on Thursday. In order to make room for Yoshida on the 40-man roster, infielder Jeter Downs was designated for assignment.

Yoshida, 29, agreed to a five-year, $90 million deal with the Red Sox last week — just hours after he was posted by the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball — and was introduced to the media at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon. Boston also paid Orix a $15.375 million posting fee for Yoshida’s services, which takes the total value of the club’s investment to over $105 million.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Yoshida received a $13 million signing bonus from the Red Sox and will earn $15 million in 2023 before earning $18 million per year from 2024 through 2027. The deal does not contain any performance bonuses, team options, or opt-out clauses and is the second-largest contract Chaim Bloom has given out since taking over as Boston’s chief baseball officer in October 2019. Only the six-year, $140 million deal that Trevor Story signed back in March surpasses it.

A native of Fukui, Yoshida initially broke in with Orix in 2016 and spent the last seven seasons playing at Japan’s top level. In 2022, the left-handed hitter batted a stout .335/.447/.561 with 28 doubles, one triple, 21 home runs, 88 RBIs, 56 runs scored, four stolen bases, 80 walks, and just 41 strikeouts over 119 games (508 plate appearances). For his NPB career, he is a lifetime .327/.421/.539 hitter who hit 133 homers and collected 467 RBIs in 762 games with the Buffaloes.

Yoshida has drawn more walks than strikeouts in each of the last four seasons and is well-regarded for his plate discipline. With that kind of approach, he could profile best as Boston’s leadoff hitter or even as a middle-of-the-lineup option in 2023.

Defensively, Yoshida figures to see the majority of his playing time with the Red Sox come in left field. There are some question marks surrounding the 5-foot-8, 176-pounder’s range and arm strength, but he could always be an option to fill in at designated hitter when needed.

Yoshida, who turns 30 in July, will wear the No. 7 with the Red Sox. He becomes the first position player and the fourth overall free agent signing Boston has made this winter, joining the likes of relievers Joely Rodriguez, Chris Martin, and Kenley Jansen.

Downs, on the other hand, was one of three players — along with Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong — acquired 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 but has since seen his stock fall significantly.

After the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Downs began the 2021 campaign with Triple-A Worcester. The right-handed hitter batted just .191/272/.333 with 14 home runs and 39 RBIs in 99 games (405 plate appearances) with the WooSox, but showed signs of promise in the Arizona Fall League and was added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November.

Downs returned to Worcester this spring and slashed .197/.316/.412 with 16 home runs and 33 RBIs over 81 games (335 plate appearances). The 24-year-old made his major-league debut in June but managed to go just 6-for-39 (.154) at the plate with one double and one homer while striking out 21 times. He was sent down in late July and then suffered a season-ending left ankle sprain at Polar Park on August 18.

Despite the offensive struggles he has endured at both the Triple-A and big-league level, it is still somewhat surprising to see the Red Sox designate Downs for assignment. As noted by Cotillo, the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder is seen as a competent middle infielder who possesses both speed and power. While the rate at which he swings-and-misses is concerning, Downs does have two minor-league options remaining and could therefore appeal to other clubs.

The Red Sox, for their part, will have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Downs. If he clears waivers, Boston can outright him to Triple-A and keep him in the organization as a non-40-man roster player.

(Picture of Masataka Yoshida: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Kenley Jansen signing official, designate Hoy Park for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed closer Kenley Jansen to a two-year contract that runs through the 2024 season, the club announced on Tuesday. In order to make room for Jansen on the 40-man roster, infielder/outfielder Hoy Park was designated for assignment.

Jansen, 35, agreed to a two-year, $32 million deal with Boston last week and was introduced to the media at Fenway Park earlier Tuesday afternoon. The veteran right-hander is slated to anchor a new-look Red Sox bullpen that will include other recent additions like Chris Martin and Joely Rodriguez as well as Matt Barnes and John Schreiber among other setup options.

Since seeing Craig Kimbrel depart in free agency at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign, the Red Sox have used 20 different pitchers to record saves over the last four seasons. Jansen, who currently ranks eighth in American/National League history with 391 career saves, will look to provide manager Alex Cora with more stability in the ninth inning moving forward.

After a decorated 12-year tenure with the Dodgers in which he he made three All-Star teams and saved 350 games from 2010 to 2021, Jansen spent the 2022 season with the Braves. The Curacao native converted a National League-best 41 of 48 saves for Atlanta while posting a 3.38 ERA and 3.21 FIP with 85 strikeouts to 22 walks over 65 relief appearances spanning 64 innings of work.

Jansen, who does not turn 36 until next September, will wear the No. 74 with the Red Sox, meaning catcher Connor Wong will have to find a new uniform number.

Park, on the other hand, was acquired from the Pirates late last month in exchange for pitching prospect Inmer Lobo. The 26-year-old originally broke in with the Yankees last July prior to being dealt to Pittsburgh in a trade that sent All-Star reliever Clay Holmes to New York.

In 23 games with the Pirates this past season, Park went 11-for-51 (.216) with two doubles, two home runs, six RBIs, seven runs scored, one stolen base, four walks, and 15 strikeouts. Since debuting last summer, the left-handed hitter out of South Korea owns a career .201/.276/.373 slash line to go along with seven doubles, two triples, five homers, 20 runs driven in, 23 runs scored, two stolen bases, 22 walks, and 53 strikeouts over 68 career games (210 plate appearances) at the big-league level.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox were intrigued by Park’s versatility, as the 6-1, 200-pounder already has accrued major-league experience at every defensive position besides pitcher, catcher, and first base. Boston will now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Park, who has the ability to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency since he has previously been outrighted in his career.

Following Tuesday’s announcement, the Red Sox now have 40 players on their 40-man roster. They will need to make another move once they are ready to announce the signing of Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

(Picture of Kenley Jansen: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

With additions of Kenley Jansen and Masataka Yoshida looming, Red Sox face possible roster crunch

The Red Sox will be facing a roster crunch of sorts in the coming days after a busy week at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

After officially signing veteran reliever Chris Martin to a two-year, $17.5 million contract on Thursday, Boston’s 40-man roster is now at full capacity. Earlier this week, the Sox reportedly agreed to a two-year, $32 million deal with closer Kenley Jansen and a record-setting five-year, $90 million deal with Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

Once the signings of Jansen and Yoshida become official, the Red Sox will need to create two spots on their 40-man roster in order to accommodate those two additions. How they plan on doing that remains unclear.

So far this month, Boston has already outrighted catcher Ronaldo Hernandez off the 40-man roster, which paved the way for Martin to be added on Thursday. It’s possible that other players towards the end of the 40-man — like Hernandez was — could be on the chopping block as well.

Bobby Dalbec, for instance, came up in trade talks this week. On Monday, Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam reported that the Red Sox “have told teams that Dalbec is available” and that the Rays were one of the teams “which has expressed some interest.”

That Dalbec has been made available is not all that surprising. The 27-year-old slugger struggled to the tune of a .215/.283/.369 slash line with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs in 117 games this season while grading as a poor defender at first base. He was sent down to Worcester when top prospect Triston Casas was called up in September and is squarely behind him and Eric Hosmer on Boston’s first-base depth chart.

Dalbec, who turns 28 next June, is just one year removed from a 25-homer season in which he produced a 106 wRC+. The former fourth-round draft pick also does not become eligible for salary arbitration until 2024 and has two minor-league options remaining. The Red Sox are probably not asking for much in return for Dalbec, who came up through the minor-leagues as a third baseman, though they could potentially land an unheralded prospect for him who is more of a lottery ticket than anything.

Boston recently parted ways with a similar type of prospect when it acquired infielder/outfielder Hoy Park from the Pirates late last month. Park, who had just been designated for assignment by Pittsburgh, cost the Red Sox right-hander Inmer Lobo, who was signed for $10,000 out of Venezuela back in January.

Park, 27 in April, could be in limbo with his new club the same way he was in with the Pirates. The South Korea native broke in with the Yankees last July and has since batted .201/.291/.346 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 68 games between New York and Pittsburgh. He, like Dalbec, has two minor-league options remaining but also comes with more years of control since he does not become arbitration-eligible until 2026.

Dalbec and Park represent just two possibilities for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when it comes to trimming down the size of the Sox’ 40-man roster. Relievers Ryan Brasier and Darwinzon Hernandez were each tendered contracts last month but are coming off disappointing 2022 seasons. Jeter Downs, the top prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade, made his major-league debut in June but looked outmatched at times at the plate. The same can be said for outfielder Jarren Duran.

Hosmer opted in to the final three years and $39 million of his contract in early November. The Red Sox, however, only owe the 33-year-old the league minimum over the next three seasons after acquiring him from the Padres at the trade deadline. Since Hosmer has a no-trade clause and therefore has the right to reject a move to another team, Boston could elect to simply designate him for assignment or outright release him if all else fails.

All told, the Red Sox will have some interesting — and maybe even difficult — decisions to make in the coming days as they introduce Jansen and Yoshida to the organization.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)