The Red Sox were able to come to a conclusion and finalize their mega deal.
It’s not deja vu, but it certainly feels like it. The Boston Red Sox have completed a deal that will send both Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers. As you’ve likely heard from tens of sources, the prior deal broke down due to the long term outlook of Twins’ prospect, Brusdar Graterol.
There was short-lived hope that the Red Sox would retain Betts for the 2020 season, but reality set in on Sunday when Chaim Bloom agreed to a new deal with the Dodgers. At a glance, the deal seems to be marginally better for the Sox. They were able to acquire three prospects, as opposed to two, and were able to get a clean bill of health on each player shipping up to Boston.
As mentioned previously, the centerpiece of the trade was acquiring Alex Verdugo. He seems to slot into the outfield due to his plus arm and solid bat, but will consistently fight the label of “Mookie Betts’ replacement.” Let’s investigate the two newer additions to the Red Sox farm system.
Acquiring Jeter Downs
A player named Jeter is going to take some adjusting for Red Sox fans, but perhaps his on-field output will erase any form of hesitation. A former first round pick, and brother of Red Sox prospect Jerry Downs, has climbed up to #44 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. He figures to be an above-average middle infielder that should have the positional flexibility to play third, shortstop, or second base. As of now, Downs figures to be the heir apparent to Dustin Pedroia at second base. Michael Chavis and Jose Peraza figure to hold down the fort until he’s ready, but Downs is a true middle-infielder that will make for a tremendous pair with Xander Bogaerts.
Downs produces solid power output for a middle infielder, launching 24 HR’s over the High A, and Double A, levels. He was a popular name when trade rumors began to flow, but the Boston Red Sox picked up a solid, young talent and one that we may see in Boston within the next few seasons.
Red Sox prospect SS Jeter Downs, kid hits dingers!— Boston Sports Syndicate (@BostonSportsSYN) February 10, 2020
Downs hit 24 home runs last season between Single-A and Double-A.
Acquiring Connor Wong
In addition to Jeter Downs, the Red Sox were able to acquire organizational depth at catcher in Connor Wong. He had a solid season last year and ranked within the Dodgers Top 30 prospects in 2019. He launched 24 HR’s last season and projects to be a solid backup at the Major League level. Keep in mind, projections are merely just that, and with the Red Sox having a shortage behind the plate – it was a solid move to add depth at the catching position.
Red Sox also get Catcher Connor Wong from the Dodgers in the blockbuster deal.— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) February 9, 2020
Wong hit .349 with 24 homers and 82 RBI's in just 429 at-bats last year in the minors.
Here are some highlights of Connor Wong: pic.twitter.com/vQInrx5mJ7
Grading the Trade
At a quick glance, this trade seems like an improvement for Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox. They were able to acquire a prospect that was ranked higher within MLB circles in Jeter Downs, as well as added much needed depth in Connor Wong. Keith Law of The Athletic, echoed the sentiment that the Sox should receive a higher grade for this prospect haul.
In my opinion, the wild card of the deal will be Brusdar Graterol and his future development. Instead of heading to Boston, the hard-throwing prospect has been dealt to the Dodgers. If he ends up developing as an elite starting pitcher, he’ll be a prospect that the Red Sox will have regret in not acquiring. Agent Scott Boras was adamant that would be the case when asked, but Chaim Bloom decided on the sure thing and acquired Downs and Wong. When trading a player of Mookie Betts caliber, it’s hard to blame the young GM for pursuing the less risky commodity. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how his development pans out.
Overall, it’s a slight improvement for the Red Sox as they turn the page to Spring Training.