Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

  • On Thursday afternoon the Red Sox officially announced the signing of Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida. So far, Yoshida is the biggest move the Red Sox have made this offseason, bringing the 29-year-old in on a five-year, $90 million contract while also paying a $15.4 million posting fee.

    In order to make Yoshida’s signing official, the Red Sox had to open up a spot on the 40-man roster. That corresponding move was also announced on Thursday, with the team designating infielder Jeter Downs for assignment.

  • Downs being DFA’ed is another move that may feel like rubbing salt in the wounds for Red Sox fans this offseason. The 24-year-old Downs was the top prospect acquired by the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade in February of 2020. Downs didn’t play in 2020 due to there being no Minor League season because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, then struggled in the minors over the last two years hitting a combined .193 in 180 games.

    Last year, Downs was called up to Boston to make his MLB debut as injuries tested the team’s infield depth. He hit .154 in 14 Major League games before being sent back down to Worcester.

    Despite being DFA’ed, Downs could still remain in the Red Sox system. The designation simply means that he is removed from the 40-man roster and the team now has seven days to make a decision on what to do next. They can either place him on waivers or trade him. If he clears waivers, the team can then reassign him to the minor leagues. If the Red Sox wanted to recall him to the Majors again after that, he’d need to be re-added to the 40-man roster.

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  • With Downs off the 40-man, the two remaining players left from that trade are Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong. Verdugo has played in 351 games since the trade, slashing .286/.341/.431. Although he projects to be a starting outfielder for the team this year, MassLive’s Chris Cotillo noted on a podcast earlier this week that Verdugo could be on the trading block. As for Wong, he’s appeared in 33 games over the last two years as an emergency call-up catcher, and figures to be in a similar role in 2023.

    On top of all of that, the Red Sox weren’t originally planning on getting Downs or Wong in the trade. The original deal was for the Red Sox to get Vergudo and pitcher Brusdar Graterol from the Twins, in what would h ave been a four-team deal. However, the team saw something during Graterol’s physical that had them concerned about the durability of his arm and led to them re-working the deal to include Downs and Wong – then Dodgers prospects. Since then, Graterol – who ended up getting dealt to the Dodgers in a subsequent deal – has appeared in 103 games as a reliever, posting a 3.64 ERA and 1.100 WHIP. He had a career year in 2022 at 23 years old.

    The Downs move comes as the Betts trade had been put into the spotlight once again by the departure of four-time All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts in free agency, and reports the Red Sox lowballed Bogaerts throughout most of the negotiation process. At the time of the Betts trade, it was suggested the deal was a necessary financial move (they also unloaded a significant portion of David Price’s contract) to put the team in a position where it would keep Bogaerts and Rafael Devers down the road. With Bogaerts’ departure, and now Downs being removed from the 40-man roster, that deal continues to look less and less favorable.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.

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