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The Mookie Trade White Flag Flies High

With Jeter Downs designated for assignment, John Henry and the front office finally admit it: they lost—and they lost big.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The white flag has officially been flown above Fort Fenway.

Infielder Jeter Downs was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Thursday, unceremoniously ending his short-lived tenure in Boston after he was one of the players included in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ trade package for outfielder Mookie Betts back in early 2020.

Not even three years later and John Henry, along with the rest of the front office, can no longer ignore the music. The truth has become evident.

The Red Sox lost the Mookie Betts deal—and they lost big.

Now I don’t think I’m breaking any news to our loyal readers by typing that out. Anyone with half a brain realized this would likely end up being a disaster the second the trade was announced.

But today feels different. It’s different because now we are getting confirmation from the top brass that yes: it really was that bad of a deal. It’s not often you get what amounts to a basic admission of fault from a professional sports team over a bad transaction, but actions speak louder than words (not that the ownership group has said many words publically as of late, but I digress).

To make space for an outfield reinforcement trooper, the Red Sox parted ways with a player who himself was acquired by parting ways with the man who was practically a one man army. The only thing Boston has now to show for the best player developed in their system since the only major leaguer to hit .400 from the FDR administration onward is a guy who hasn’t topped over 2.2 bWAR since coming to the Sox and a catcher who will presumably be platooning with a guy who has his own bad memories of February 2020.

The front office has officially admitted what was known all along: the family cow was traded for three magic beans. It’s not even cool magic, either; it’s some mediocre-at-best magic that you could learn yourself by watching a YouTube tutorial.

If there’s three blameless people in this situation, it’s Jeter Downs himself, along with Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong. Being part of the going rate for a talented multi-time All-Star, a five-tool MVP, and a beloved World Champion can’t be easy. Jeter Downs didn’t ask to be traded for Mookie Betts. He wouldn’t have wanted this outcome to fall upon himself. I wish him well and I hope he lands on his feet somewhere.

Has Downs been uninspiring on the field? Absolutely. 41 plate appearences resulting in a .171 OBP, .256 SLG, and 17 (se-ven-teen) OPS+ is uhhhhh...well it’s not good folks. Add his prior prospect pedigree on top of that and you’ve got yourself a disappointment. But much of those expectations came solely from the fact that he was traded for Betts—which, again, he didn’t bang on the desk for.

No, this is not a story about Jeter Downs. This is one more sad chapter of the ever-growing tale of the Boston Red Sox and their front office’s ineptitude to recognize a good thing when they see one. It’s another bleak reminder of what could have been, as if Red Sox fans needed any refreshers about that following last week’s confirmation of the departure of a franchise icon—no, not the one I’ve been talking about here, the other fan favorite who came up through the organization’s ranks and should’ve ended his career with the red B on his cap and his number hanging in right field.

We don’t need to refresh our own memories about the existence of that alternate universe, where Betts and Bogaerts join Devers as the identity of the franchise for over a decade.

The Red Sox management has been doing that refreshing for us.