The Pirates are acquiring infielder Yu Chang from the Guardians for cash considerations, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Chang had been designated for assignment by the Guardians on Thursday.
This will be the first new organization for Chang, who has spent the entirety of his professional career with Cleveland so far. A native of Taiwan, Chang was signed as an international free agent in 2013 for a signing bonus of $500K and started playing Rookie ball before his 19th birthday. As he rose through the ranks of the minor leagues, he often hit well, especially for power. Baseball America considered him to be one of the top 30 prospects in Cleveland’s system for seven straight years from 2015 to 2021.
Unfortunately for Chang, he’s struggled to translate his skills to the major league diamonds thus far, in limited opportunities. Over the past four seasons, he’s gotten into 131 games and hit 10 home runs, producing an overall slash line of .208/.265/.372, 71 wRC+. The 26-year-old was designated for assignment last week, after exhausting his option years and his time with the Guardians.
Pittsburgh should be able to give Chang more opportunities to get into a groove than he saw in Cleveland, as they have a number of position players currently on the injured list. Ben Gamel just went on the IL today, joining Roberto Perez, Jake Marisnick, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Daniel Vogelbach, Kevin Newman and Greg Allen among hitters currently out of action due to injury. Chang has played all four infield positions during his time in the big leagues but is likely to get consideration for extended time at first base. Up until yesterday, every Pirates’ game this season had featured either Tsutsugo or Michael Chavis starting at first. With Tsutsugo on the IL and Chavis day-to-day with forearm discomfort, the club has put Josh VanMeter into the starting lineup yesterday and today, who has played first before but is much more experienced elsewhere. Shortly before the trade, Mackey relayed word from assistant general manager Kevan Graves, who said the club was looking to supplement the first base situation. With Vogelbach on the IL, the club is also missing its primary DH, freeing up more at-bats for whoever the club deems most worthy.