9 Potential CPBL Targets for 2019: Potent Pitchers, Good Bats

With the CPBL August 31st trade deadline approaching, all the CPBL teams are starting to make their final adjustment to their foreign players roster.

This is a perfect opportunity to talk about some of the potential CPBL foreign players for the 2019 season. Our new contributor Anthony has put together a list of nine players that might have a chance to play in Taiwan next year.

Note: Traditionally, the CPBL teams prefer to sign foreign pitchers, but we will still mention two foreign positional players here.


Wilin Rosario’s New Situation

Wilin Rosario was a solid hitter for a catcher, until he became more of a below average hitting first baseman in the MLB. When he was signed to a deal by the Hanwha Eagles and another in 2017 at $1.5 million he has became a better hitter, who has improved his plate discipline and has NPB teams attention with his hitting capabilities in the KBO.

There are a few things up in the air for his 2019 destination due to his not so impressive performance this year with the Hanshin Tigers: Will he stay with the Tigers? Will he even be in the NPB in 2019? Perhaps a CPBL team will snatch him up in an effort to improve their offense?

When looking at his career stats it shows his demise in power, and plate discipline which means he’ll have to go to the CPBL or KBO, no NPB team will have him. And he won’t be worth anything in the Triple-A if he hits like that.

He could be cheap enough for a CPBL team. Doubt it, but it’s possible. He’s a high risk, high reward quality target. He’s also unlikely due to how the CPBL Teams usually use starting pitchers for foreign player slots.

Cody Martin: Pitcher Buy Low #1

Cody Martin could be a decent swingman/ starting pitcher buy low given the chance. Unfortunately, this season his strikeout and walk rates have severely regressed from his career norms in the minor leagues. He should be an MLB, NPB, KBO, and possibly a CPBL buy low.

Martin is not much of a ground ball guy, but he can get a good amount of pop-ups which are considered automatic outs and automatic outs include strikeouts. He is more likely to go an NPB team than a CPBL team or a KBO team due to these tendencies.

Therefore he would likely be too much money to acquire for a team in a league other than the KBO or NPB. The KBO hitters eat guys who can’t generate enough ground balls generally, same thing with the CPBL.

Looking at Drew Hutchison

Drew Hutchison could be quite the value play for a team that needs pitching. MLB, NPB, KBO or even a CPBL team. He signed a big league deal with the Rangers recently so he will likely be uninterested in the CPBL.

Drew Hutchison used to be a solid, albeit unlucky starter (a poor man’s Jon Gray) and now he is something between a swingman and multi inning reliever at least to an MLB team considering his solid performance in the Pacific coast league as a starting pitcher/ swingman.

He could be an option for a CPBL team but he is more likely to stay in the MLB or go to the NPB. He’d likely view the CPBL as a downgrade and will try to use his new success to get big money to pitch for an NPB team. Especially when many teams want to make an upgrade over what they have for foreign players.

One concern is that his velocity has been two ticks lower in a multiple inning relief role than he was as a starting pitcher. We will see if he can make some gains in that regard.

Nick Evans: Interesting CPBL Target

Nick Evans used to be a solid minor leaguer and hitter in the KBO. Now he’s a free agent for unknown reasons. He was a very solid hitter in the Doosan Bears lineup and yet they let him go for a horrible Jimmy Paredes and an eh Scott Van Slyke.

Evans has good plate discipline tendencies and can hit for power, he looked like a cheap DH who could play left field if needed. So why has no one signed him to a deal yet? The likely answer is he wants more money than what teams are willing to give him.

Now, his price should have dropped enough to where a CPBL team could sign him so he’d be one of their best hitters besides Po Jung Wang. He should be able to post 150+ OPS+ rating in the CPBL as the CPBL is a worse version of the KBO.

However, most teams in the CPBL use their foreign player spots for starting pitchers only so he might not even get a chance. He’s more like to sign a minor league deal to play in the Triple-A or Double-A due to not playing at all in 2018.

Jason Wheeler: Pitcher Buy Low #2

Jason Wheeler looked like another minor league depth piece with some value for an MLB rotation before signing with a KBO team during the off-season. Now he could sign with a KBO team or a CPBL team. He should be a great performer to add at a cheap enough cost.

He looks to be a promising target for the KBO or the CPBL (although an MLB is a possible chance to sign to play in the Triple-A). He’s a guy who can get strikeouts and usually limits walks more effectively than he has this season and he usually doesn’t hit that many batters.

I would expect a regression in his walk rate to his previous levels. Once that happens he could go to a KBO team again, until such time he should be a CPBL target.

Eric Hacker: Hacking to Buy Low?

It is safe to say, Eric Hacker has become a big name in the KBO. Before this season he was a CPBL signing target but he was too expensive at the time. Now, with his mostly below average performance he should be cheaper and possibly available for a CPBL team.

What made Eric Hacker so successful in the KBO was that he limited walks and got enough strikeouts while eating innings consistently, limiting hard contact. Compared to other KBO pitchers he was cheaper and is even cheaper now.

Since he should have a spring training unlike what happened last year he might sign with a CPBL team. His price could have come down enough. Next year he will be 36 so he’ll likely be a short term addition.

Having said that, Hacker should be a top pitcher in the CPBL. He has been a durable starter his entire career. After all, he would still be younger than the Uni-Lions recent signing of one Andy Van Hekken (who is much better at getting strikeouts).

Pat Dean: Boring but Good

Pat Dean has never been an exciting pitcher, but he gets the job done in an effective manner. His ERA is not impressive, but he limits walks very effectively and gets enough strikeouts. One thing to note is that he isn’t great at getting strikeouts and has limited velocity, around 90mph average fastball as seen here in the MLB and minor leagues.

This year in Korea he has been demoted to a relief role and thus he should be more likely to sign with a CPBL team than a KBO team. His price however, could be too much as he is getting $600,000 in the KBO.

One concern is he might sign with an MLB team and then going from Triple-A to Japan like Donn Roach did after a terrible 2017 season in the KBO. He looks like an attainable target for a CPBL team.

Do We Ship Manship as Starting Pitcher?

Jeff Manship is well known as being a relief pitcher with the Cleveland Indians in 2016 when they nearly won the world series. He has shown starting capabilities in the KBO. However, his stamina and health are concerns since has averaging just over 5 innings per start. He also failed his physical with the Reds earlier this year.

Manship and Esmil Rogers are fits with the CPBL teams for that reason, although Esmil Rogers is much more likely to sign with a KBO team again because he had an injury that can be recovered from (broken finger) and he was pitching more effectively before the injury.

Rogers has gotten more innings per start in the KBO and has better K/BB rates as a starter. A CPBL team is more likely to sign Manship as he hasn’t played at all this year and could be at a discount unlike Rogers.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hard to project 2019’s CPBL imports this long before the end of the season. Jason Wheeler and Cody Martin seem like realistic possibilities, given their current situations and what kinds of salary offers they are likely to get this coming off-season. Pat Dean and Eric Hacker could still pitch well enough the rest of the way to return to the KBO in 2019. If Drew Hutchinson is willing to pitch in Asia in 2019, he’ll be doing it for a KBO or NPB team.

    The three pitchers signed out of the Mexican League last off-season, Josh Roenicke, Ryan Verdugo and Mitch Lively have all pitched well enough that I think it’s fairly certain CPBL teams will be bringing in least two or three more Mexican Leaguers to start the 2019 CPBL season.

    2018 Mexican League pitchers I have my eye for CPBL purposes are Josh Lowey, Barry Enright, Kyle Lobstein, Tyler Alexander, Tiago Da Silva, Andre Rienza and Patrick Johnson, to name more than a few.

    • Josh Lowey were linked to the Guardians before, apparently it was on their target list.

      Former KBO is probably more pricey than Mexican Leaguer, but they do have that Asian Pro-Ball experience, a lot of CPBL teams like that.

      Personally, I really would like to see Eric Hacker and Jeff Manship here. But again, this all depend on whether they are willing to take a massive price cut to pitch in Taiwan.

      I think we will see more Mexican League next year, like you said with the success of Josh Roenicke and Mitch Lively. Roenicke is on pace to win the pitching triple crown too.

      Rangers’ Austin Bibens-Dirkx could be an interesting one. According to him, a CPBL team had offered him “a pretty decent contract” earlier this year. I wonder if that team will make another offer to him again in 2019?

    • I (with Rob’s help) chose players I had spent more time researching for other projects. I hadn’t done much research on the Mexican league in all honesty. I also have written not much more than 10 articles before this mashup piece.

  2. Josh Lowey is a personal favorite, but he will be 34 in 2019 and his strikeout rate is down nine starts into the Mexican League’s second half. He should have been signed with a CPBL team last off-season. I think the fact that he didn’t pitch in a winter league last off-season, like Josh Roenicke, Ryan Verdugo and Mitch Lively all did effectively, made CPBL teams think he might be hurt.

    I agree that Eric Hacker would probably be an effective CPBL starter in 2019, and it would be interesting to see Jeff Manship pitch in the CPBL is he’s healthy enough to do so. That doesn’t seem likely in view of Manship’s age and recent injury history. Esmil Rogers, if he’s healthy, will be playing in the CPBL next year if he’s willing to take a pay cut that would still pay him more than a CPBL contract.

    Austin Bibens-Dirkx is an interesting idea, if he’s willing to go from the MLB majors to the CPBL in one season. I doubt it, because Bibens-Dirkx has pitched a significant amount in the MLB majors this year, so he’s earning increased MLB pension benefits, which are worth more than any pay increase he’d get pitching in Taiwan. That could change, though, if no MLB organization is willing to sign him next year, when he will also be 34 years old. In those circumstances, he’d be a good CPBL bet for one season.

    • Oops. Esmil Rogers will be pitching in the KBO next year if he’s willing to accept a contract considerably less than the $1.25M salary he was getting this year until he got hurt and released. Rogers also received a reported $250,000 signing bonus this year. A broken finger is something a pitcher can recover from, so if it has healed, he should command a $700,000 salary with a $100,000 signing bonus from a KBO team this off-season. Could be more if he’s a KBO free agent after having been released by the Nexen Heroes.

      • Yeah, been looking at Esmil Rogers’ stats too. I think he will definitely return to the KBO next year, guy was a beast at eating innings prior to his finger injury.

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