Downs, 24, is perhaps best known as one of the key pieces of the trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in February of 2020. Downs went to the Red Sox alongside Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong. At the time, Downs was a highly-touted prospect, featuring on the back end of Baseball America’s top 100 list in both 2020 and 2021.
Unfortunately, his stock has completely nosedived in the past two years. After the pandemic wiped out the minor leagues in 2020, Downs spent 2021 in Triple-A, getting into 99 games on the year. His power and speed were still evident, as he hit 14 home runs and stole 18 bases. However, he struck out in 32.3% of his plate appearances and finished with a batting line of .190/.272/.333 for a wRC+ of 62.
2022 was an improvement but only slightly. His strikeout rate dropped but was still quite high at 29.6%. He added another 16 homers and swiped 18 more bags, but his batting line of .197/.316/.412 added up to a 95 wRC+. He also got into 14 MLB games but hit just .154/.171/.256 in that small sample, striking out in 51.2% of his trips to the plate.
Despite making him a key piece of a franchise-altering trade, it seems the club has run out of patience with him. They will now have a week to trade him or put him on waivers. Despite the rough results in the past two seasons, it seems likely that some team would take a flier on him. He’s still only 24, was a top prospect less than two years ago and has two option years remaining. He also brings defensive versatility, having primarily played shortstop but also some second and third base.
For the Boston fans, trading away an elite talent like Betts was always going to be a bitter pill to swallow, but it seems to be getting worse with age. While Betts helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series, Verdugo seems to have settled in as an adequate but unexciting outfielder. Wong has yet to establish himself at the big league level and Downs is now potentially leaving the organization on a low note.