The Rays welcomed Wander Franco back from the injured list Friday, designating fellow infielder Yu Chang for assignment in order to open a spot on the roster. Tampa Bay also reinstated righty Drew Rasmussen from the paternity list and optioned right-hander Yonny Chirinos to Triple-A Durham in a corresponding move. Chirinos will remain with the club on the taxi squad.
Franco’s forthcoming reinstatement was reported last night. The star shortstop has been out since the second week of June after fracturing the hamate bone in his right hand. He had some brief setbacks upon first trying to begin a rehab stint in late August, but he made it back to Durham on Tuesday. After just a pair of games there, Tampa Bay will welcome him back to the lineup in advance of a pivotal weekend series against the Yankees, whom they trail by 4 1/2 games in the AL East.
With their star shortstop back healthy, the Rays ran out of room for Chang. Claimed off waivers from the Pirates in July, he’s spent the past couple months in a utility capacity with the big league club. The 27-year-old has played reasonably well in Tampa Bay, hitting .260/.305/.385 with three home runs and doubles apiece over 105 trips to the dish. Paired with his ability to cover anywhere around the infield, he was a useful contributor to the Rays bench, but he hadn’t fared as well during earlier-season stints with the Guardians and Pirates.
Including his dismal results with Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Chang still owns a below-average .216/.280/.324 line over 164 plate appearances on the year. He’s a .215/.275/.365 hitter through parts of four MLB seasons, a dip compared to his .258/.332/.427 showing in four seasons at Triple-A. Chang was a fairly well-regarded prospect and has drawn interest from a few teams this year, but he’s had a hard time carving out a permanent role. That’s in large part due to his out-of-options status, as teams can’t demote Chang to Triple-A without first running him through waivers.
The Rays will now take a shot at getting Chang through waivers themselves. With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the only courses of action are to place Chang on outright or release waivers within the next few days.