The Nationals made another offseason move, claiming shortstop Jeter Downs from the Boston Red Sox, according to Jesse Dougherty from the Washington Post. This comes after he was DFA’d earlier this week. Downs has since been added to the 40 man roster, as the Nats DFA’d Reed Garrett to make room, who had a 6.75 ERA in 7 appearances for the Nats last year.
Downs is a former first round pick who has had a rough go at it in the minors since the minor league season was canceled in 2020. He entered 2020 as the Red Sox number one prospect and 44th in the MLB. In 2021, he spent the season in Triple A Worcester, but hit an unspectacular .191 with a .606 OPS in 99 games. He did play in the 2021 Futures Game, going 1-2 with a two run double and a strikeout. Nats fans may remember his strikeout, as it came against Nats prospect Cade Cavalli.
2022 was not a ton better better for Downs, as he spent most of the season in Triple A with a brief stint in the majors with the Red Sox. In Triple A, he hit .197 with a .728 OPS through 81 games. In his 14 games in the big leagues, he had six hits, with his one home run coming off of Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium.
Downs has been involved in two trades in his career. Initially drafted by the Reds, he was one of the prospects traded to the LA Dodgers in exchange for Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer before the 2019 season. Then, just before 2020 Spring Training took off, Downs was involved in the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers.
This is a low risk, potentially high reward move that the Nats should be making given their current state. Downs was formerly a top prospect for a reason, as he has shown solid athletic ability and the ability to play either middle infield spot. If he can figure it out offensively, this will look like a great move down the road. Otherwise, this will be a move that does not really speed up the rebuild.