The Red Sox have claimed infielder Yu Chang off waivers from the Rays, according to Chris Cotillo of MassLive. Chang had been designated for assignment last week. In a corresponding move, outfielder Jaylin Davis has been designated for assignment by Boston.
Chang, 28, has been a fixture of transaction logs this year, now joining his fourth organization of the season. He began the year with the Guardians but was designated for assignment in late May. He got traded to the Pirates for cash considerations but was designated for assignment again after a month in Pittsburgh. The Rays claimed him off waives from the Bucs and have kept him around for the past two months.
Chang was a fairly well regarded prospect but hasn’t yet had strong results in the major leagues. Since he is out of options and can’t be sent to the minors, he’s been continually nudged off rosters all year, with some other club always stepping up to give him another shot. His overall batting line this year is .216/.280/.324 for a wRC+ of 77. He has been better in recent months with the Rays, however, hitting .260/.305/.385 for a wRC+ of 101. Whether Chang’s bat has turned a corner or not, he will at least provide defensive versatility, having spent some time at each of the four infield positions this year.
The Red Sox are 69-72 on the year, leaving them 10 games out of a playoff spot with just over three weeks remaining on the schedule. With their hopes of competing effectively dashed at this point, they can use their remaining games to evaluate players prior to the winter, with Chang now entering the mix. The club’s current infield picture includes Xander Bogaerts, Trevor Story, Rafael Devers, Triston Casas and Christian Arroyo, with Bogaerts expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent this winter. The Sox make sense as a fit for a free agent shortstop to replace Bogaerts, though if they don’t succeed in signing one, they could also slide Story over and make Arroyo the everyday second baseman. That would give Chang a path to a job as a utility/bench infielder.
As for Davis, 28, the Red Sox claimed him from the Giants in April but passed him through waivers a couple weeks later. He was selected back to the roster in July. He has a great batting line in the majors though in a tiny sample of just 27 plate appearances. He’s hit .333/.407/.375 in the bigs this year despite striking out 40.7% of the time. He’s hit just .198/.315/.318 for Triple-A Worcester while going down on strikes in in 30.8% of his 305 plate appearances. Since the trade deadline has passed, the Sox will have no choice but to put him on outright waivers or release waivers in the coming days. Since Davis was previously outrighted, he’d have the ability to reject an assignment and elect free agency in the event he clears waivers again.