When the Boston Red Sox agreed to terms with Masataka Yoshida on the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings, they were all but certain he’d be joining the club right when Xander Bogaerts left.
It ended up happening about six hours later.
Now, it turns out his arrival will forever be linked to two of the club’s worst decisions in franchise history. Before the Sox could introduce Yoshida at Fenway Park, they had to open a spot for him on the 40-man roster. An hour and a half before the Thursday afternoon press conference, they designated Jeter Downs – the top prospect acquired in the Mookie Betts trade – for assignment.
Red Sox DFA Mookie Betts trade piece Jeter Downs for Masataka Yoshida
It’s both a stunning development and an unsurprising turn of events. Downs struggled offensively in both Triple-A and his brief time in the majors, never really materializing into the player people thought he could be.
Originally selected by the Cincinnati Reds with the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 draft, he ended up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in a December 2018 trade for Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer, and cash considerations. In February 2020, he and Connor Wong were the two prospects sent to Boston with Alex Verdugo in exchange for Betts and David Price. Despite the cancelation of the 2020 MiLB season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Downs ranked No. 2 in the Sox system heading into the 2020-21 offseason.
Now, as the DFA rules state, the Sox now have a week to put Downs back on the 40-man, trade him, or place him on waivers. If he goes unclaimed on waivers, they can outright him back to the minors.
A trade that never looked good has aged as well as a carton of milk in the summer sun. At the end of the season, Alex Cora was quick to name Verdugo as the player who needs to improve in 2023, and Chaim Bloom says they’re trying to upgrade at catcher, indicating they’re not high on Wong or Reese McGuire. DFA-ing Downs is the nail in the coffin.
The poor timing is almost comically bad. In DFA-ing Downs, the Sox have torn open the Betts wound again while bleeding copiously from the fresh cut of Bogaerts’ departure. ‘DFA’ed‘ trended on Twitter as fans bemoaned the Sox’ downward spiral.
And you have to feel for Yoshida. He’s arrived in Pompeii as Vesuvius erupts.