The Rangers have selected the contract of left-hander Hyeon-Jong Yang, the team announced. In corresponding moves, Leody Taveras was optioned to the alternate training site, while infielder Ronald Guzman (who underwent season-ending knee surgery on Friday) was moved to the 60-day injured list.
After signing a minor league contract with Texas during the offseason, the 33-year-old Yang will now get his first crack at the major leagues, and also lock in a $1.3MM guarantee for reaching the Rangers’ active roster. Beginning his career with the Kia Tigers in 2007, Yang has posted a 3.83 ERA and 19.77% strikeout rate over 1986 career innings in KBO action.
2020 wasn’t one of his finer seasons, as Yang had a 4.70 ERA over 172 1/3 frames and a spike in his walk rate. However, at the cost of $1.3MM and a minors deal, the Rangers felt it was worth seeing what Yang could do in North American baseball, even if he can just eat some innings at the back of the rotation. Yang has tossed at least 171 1/3 innings in each of the last seven seasons, and durability was only part of his appeal, as that seven-year stretch also included two league ERA titles, the KBO MVP Award in 2017, and a championship ring with the Tigers that same year as Yang won Korean Series MVP honors.
That said, it isn’t yet clear if the Rangers will use Yang in the rotation or if he’ll be deployed in their injury-riddled bullpen. Texas already has several left-handers among their current relief options, though Yang could be used in a long relief or swingman role to get him accustomed to MLB hitters.
Taveras made his own Major League debut in 2020 and posted some respectable numbers over 134 plate appearances, but he hasn’t hit at all this season, with only an .087/.160/.087 slash line in 50 PA. Taveras’ demotion should fully clear the way for more playing time for Adolis Garcia in center field.