Guardians Designate Yu Chang, Select Oscar Gonzalez

The Guardians announced a flurry of roster moves prior to tonight’s game, with left-hander Konnor Pilkington and outfielder Richie Palacios being recalled to the active roster. Outfielder Oscar Gonzalez has also had his contract selected, with Yu Chang being designated for assignment to make room for him on both the active and 40-man rosters. To clear space on the active roster for Pilkington and Palacios, Franmil Reyes has been placed on the injured list alongside Aaron Civale, whose IL placement has already been reported. Right hamstring tightness is the diagnosis for Reyes, per Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Chang has seen sporadic time in the big leagues with Cleveland in each season since his 2019 debut. In that time, he’s gotten into 131 games and made 358 plate appearances, but hit just .208/.265/.372 for a wRC+ of 71. Having exhausted his option years, the club was forced to designate him for assignment in order to open up a spot on the active roster.

Despite that lackluster batting line, it’s possible that other clubs could find some positives to focus on. Chang brings positional versatility, having played all four infield positions with competence. Statcast’s Outs Above Average considers him to be above average at each one, having valued him at +8 OAA overall in his career thus far. He also showed intriguing plate discipline in his first couple of campaigns, with walk rates above 13% in both 2019 and 2020, though that dropped to just 4.4% last year. He hasn’t walked at all so far this year, though he’s only been up to the plate ten times.

As for Gonzalez, he was a big international signing for Cleveland back in 2014, earning a bonus of $300K. Baseball America placed him on their list of top prospects in the system four straight years from 2017 to 2020. Their report on him notes that he brings a lot of power to the table but can be held back due to a lack of plate discipline. Last year, between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit 31 home runs in 121 games and hit .293/.329/.542 overall for a 130 wRC+. However, that came with a 22.2% strikeout rate and 4.4% walk rate. This year, in 41 Triple-A games, he’s already hit nine homers but is walking just 3.3% of the time, slashing .282/.308/.506, 110 wRC+.

Gonzalez joins an outfield mix that also features Myles Straw, Steven Kwan, Amed Rosario, Oscar Mercado and Palacios. Reyes had been the team’s primary designated hitter though, and with him now on the shelf until his hamstring recovers, there should be some DH at-bats to spread around.

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