Red Sox infielder Yu Chang has been named MVP of Pool A in the World Baseball Classic.
Chang, a native of Taiwan, batted .438 (7-for-16) with two doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs, five runs scored, two walks, and two strikeouts in four games for Chinese Taipei during the opening round of the tournament.
Playing in his own country, Chang came through in the clutch on multiple occasions this past week. On Friday, the right-handed hitter clubbed a then-game-tying, two-run home run in the sixth inning of an 11-7 win over Italy. The following day, he crushed a 410-foot grand slam in the second inning of a 9-5 victory over the Netherlands.
Despite winning both of those games, Chinese Taipei still fell short of advancing to the quarterfinals due to a complicated five-way tie in Pool A that will see Cuba and Italy move on to Tokyo instead.
Since has team has been eliminated from the WBC, Chang will now travel stateside to report to Red Sox camp in Fort Myers. The 27-year-old signed a one-year, $850,000 contract with Boston last month and will have the chance to earn more in additional performance bonuses as well.
The Red Sox originally claimed Chang off waivers from the Rays in September. He appeared in 11 games for the club down the stretch and slashed .150/.346/.250 with two doubles, one RBI, three runs scored, five walks, and seven strikeouts across 26 trips to the plate before being non-tendered in November.
With Trevor Story (right elbow surgery) and Adalberto Mondesi (ACL rehab) slated to miss the start of the season, the Red Sox elected to bring Chang back in an effort to bolster their infield depth. Chang, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, has seen playing time at all four infield positions since first breaking in with Cleveland in 2019.
“His defense was good. He put good at-bats but defensively, he’s solid,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Chang earlier this spring. “You can move him around. Good athlete. He put together competitive at-bats but I think his defense is what separates him from the others.
Chang, who turns 28 in August, is out of minor-league options, so he will need to stick on the major-league roster this season if the Red Sox do not intend on exposing him to waivers at any point. He could have a somewhat significant role within the infield mix while Story and Mondesi are sidelined.
(Picture of Yu Chang: Yung Chuan Yang/Getty Images)