Rays Sign Yu Chang To Minor League Deal

Rays Sign Yu Chang To Minor League Deal

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The Rays announced Monday that they’ve signed versatile infielder Yu Chang to a minor league contract. He’s been invited to big league camp and will compete for a spot on manager Kevin Cash’s bench.

It’s the second Rays stint for Chang, who played 36 games and slashed .260/.305/.385 in 105 plate appearances with Tampa Bay in 2022. The Rays were one of four teams for Chang that season. He’s appeared in each of the past five MLB campaigns, suiting up for Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Boston along the way. In 650 trips to the plate at the MLB level, Chang is a .204/.269/.359 hitter.

Chang likely won’t offer a ton at the plate against either left-handed or right-handed pitching. He’s a right-handed hitter without a glaring platoon split; if anything, he’s been slightly better against same-handed opponents in his career than he has versus southpaws. He’s shown modest pop over the past three seasons (.167 ISO, 16 homers in 553 plate appearances), but that’s been accompanied by a 5.4% walk rate and ugly 29.3% strikeout rate.

Now 28 years old, Chang has logged time at all four infield positions in his career, with a relatively even distribution of playing time between the four spots. Both Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average consider him a strong defensive player at each of second base, shortstop, third base and first base.

Chang offers the Rays some depth all around the infield, which is of extra importance with Wander Franco in legal limbo and Taylor Walls recovering from offseason hip surgery. At the moment, they expect trade acquisition Jose Caballero to be the primary shortstop, with Isaac Paredes at third base, Brandon Lowe at second base and Yandy Diaz at first base. Jonathan Aranda, Osleivis Basabe, Curtis Mead and Junior Caminero (one of the top prospects in all of baseball) are all on the 40-man roster and give the Rays plenty of exciting young options to consider in their ever-changing infield outlook.

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