The Yankees announced that they have claimed infielder Jeter Downs off waivers from the Nationals. The infielder was designated for assignment a week ago when the Nats signed right-hander Dylan Floro.
Downs, 25, was once a prospect of note, having been selected 32nd overall by the Reds in 2017 and later appearing on top 100 lists. His time as a minor leaguer saw him change organizations twice as part of a major trade, first going to the Dodgers in a seven-player swap and then to the Red Sox in the deal for Mookie Betts and David Price. The Yankees now have two of the three players that went to Boston in that deal, having acquired Alex Verdugo earlier this month and leaving the Sox with just Connor Wong.
But as for Downs, he hasn’t yet delivered on that prospect hype. In 963 minor league plate appearances over the past three years, he has hit just .200/.309/.365 for a wRC+ of 80. Due to that performance, he’s been allowed to make just 50 trips to the plate at the major league level, with a slash of just .182/.260/.273 in those. The Sox put him on waivers prior to 2023, with the Nats putting in a claim but now letting him go via the same door he came in.
Despite that tepid offensive production, there’s little harm in the Yankees putting in a claim. They had three open roster spots to work with, as this claim brings their 40-man count to 38. Downs still has an option, meaning he can be stashed in the minors as depth for the upcoming season, if he sticks on the 40-man for that long. It’s also worth pointing out that he’s still young and could perhaps turn the narrative of his career around.
The Yanks are currently slated to have an infield of DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Volpe, Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo with Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera in the mix for bench/utility roles. Downs has played all three infield spots to the left of first base and even had a brief stint in center field this year, allowing him to provide some depth at various spots.