The Red Sox have signed free agent infielder Yu Chang to a one-year major-league contract for the 2023 season, the club announced earlier Thursday morning. In order to make room for Chang on the 40-man roster, shortstop Trevor Story was placed on the 60-day injured list due to right elbow ulnar collateral ligament repair.
Chang, 27, will earn $850,000 with the Red Sox this season and will have the chance to make more via performance bonuses, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.
This will mark Chang’s second stint with Boston. The Red Sox originally claimed the versatile right-handed hitter off waivers from the Rays last September. He appeared in 11 games for the club down the stretch, batting .150 (3-for-20) with two doubles, one RBI, three runs scored, five walks, and seven strikeouts over 26 trips to the plate.
Chang was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $900,000 in arbitration this year, but he was instead non-tendered by Boston in November, which allowed him to become a free agent in the first place. Fast forward three months, and the Red Sox are now bringing Chang back at a slightly lower price.
With Story sidelined for the foreseeable future after undergoing right elbow surgery in January and Adalberto Mondesi’s status for Opening Day in question as he continues to recover from a torn ACL in his left knee, the Red Sox found themselves in need of some middle infield depth as the start of the season approaches. They wound up turning to a familiar face to complement the likes of Enrique Hernandez and Christian Arroyo on the big-league roster.
Chang will not report to Red Sox camp in Fort Myers until mid-March, as he is slated to play for Team Chinese Taipei in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Once he does join the team, though, the Taiwan native will likely have an inside track to making Boston’s Opening Day roster out of spring training since he has prior major-league experience. The same cannot be said for other infielders on the 40-man roster, like prospects David Hamilton, Ceddanne Rafaela, and Enmanuel Valdez.
A former international signing of the Guardians out of Taitung in 2013, Chang was regarded as one of the top prospects in Cleveland’s farm system prior to making his debut as a 23-year-old in June 2019. He spent parts of four seasons with the Guardians before being traded to the Pirates last May. After a little more than month in Pittsburgh, he was claimed off waivers by the Rays, though his stint in Tampa Bay did not last too long, either.
For his big-league career, Chang is a lifetime .213/.279/.360 hitter with 22 doubles, four triples, 14 home runs, 61 runs driven in, 60 runs scored, one stolen base, 40 walks, and 154 strikeouts in 196 games (538 plate appearances) between the Guardians, Pirates, Rays, and Red Sox.
Defensively, Chang has past experience at all four infield positions. With Boston last year, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder logged 32 innings at shortstop, 23 innings at second base, and seven innings at first base.
Chang, who turns 28 in July, becomes the eighth free agent the Red Sox have added on a major-league contract this offseason. He joins Kenley Jansen, Corey Kluber, Chris Martin, Joely Rodriguez, Justin Turner, Adam Duvall, and Masataka Yoshida.
(Picture of Yu Chang: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)