Just call the Washington Nationals "Los Angeles Dodgers East" now with how they're trying to construct the next iteration of their contending roster. At the 2021 trade deadline, they imported Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz -- the Dodgers' top two prospects -- in the Max Scherzer-Trea Turner blockbuster.
On Thursday, by way of a connecting flight, they scooped up Jeter Downs, who was the top prospect sent to the Boston Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade back in 2020. The Sox designated Downs for assignment last week and the Nats claimed him on outright waivers.
What was a colossal failure for Boston -- a team that traded one of the best players in the game, got a terrible return in their deal, and then cut bait with the centerpiece of it -- could now be advantageous for Washington.
Downs is still only 24 years old. Had the Red Sox not screwed up his development by rushing him to Triple-A in 2021 and then the big leagues in 2022 (he played in just 107 High-A and 12 Double-A games before missing all of 2020), perhaps they would've been able to properly unlock the talent.
Perhaps a more calculated approach and some familiarity could help Downs, who was promptly welcomed by Gray upon his arrival to the nation's capital.
Former Dodgers top prospect Jeter Downs is now a Washington National
Downs (and Gray!) arrived in LA after the Dodgers made that blockbuster Matt Kemp trade with the Cincinnati Reds. He had his best minor legue season in 2019 with the Dodgers, hitting .276 with an .888 OPS, 92 runs scored, 24 HR, 86 RBI and 24 stolen bases across 119 games between High-A and Double-A.
He was traded a year later, lost an entire season of play during the pandemic, and was elevated two levels far too early. With the Red Sox, he hit just .193 with a .661 OPS in 180 Triple-A games. In 12 MLB games, he batted .154 with a .457 OPS.
Gray hasn't fared well in his new environment, either. He logged a 5.02 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 154 strikeouts in 28 starts (148.2 innings). He surrendered the most home runs and walks in the NL, too.
Now that the "dawgs" are reunited, though, Dodgers fans can follow this potential feel-good storyline in 2023, as these former top prospects look to rediscover themselves after a tough few years.