CPBL Foreign Players Updates Volume #158
On December 26, the Wei Chuan Dragons announced the signing of Jake Brigham, Drew Gagnon and Junichi Tazawa.
With the Dragons being the expansion team, for the 2021 season, they can have five foreign players on the active roster and use four foreign players in the first-team.
Wei Chuan Dragons News: Jake Brigham
32-year-old right-hander Jake Brigham began his professional career in 2006 and eventually made his MLB debut with the Atlanta Braves in 2015. After his brief stint in the MLB, he went on to pursue a career in Asia.
In 2016, he joined the Rakuten Eagles of the NPB and posted a 5.25 ERA and 1.60 WHIP over 34.1 innings of work. From 2016 to 2020 he was active in the KBO with the Nexen Heroes and Kiwoom Heroes.
During his four seasons in the KBO, Jake Brigham posted a combined record of 3.70 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 608.1 innings and was considered as the Heroes’ ace in 2018.
Based on the scouting report, Jake Brigham has six pitches in his repertoire, fastball, sinker, curveball, slider, changeup and splitter. In 2020, his fastball velocity averaged at 144.4 kph, and he mostly relied on his sinker (35%), curveball (22%) and slider (20%).
When runners are in the scoring positions, Brigham tends to increase his usage of slider and curveball. The results have been pretty effective in the KBO.
Given his past record in the KBO, Jake Brigham should be able to perform well in the CPBL. However, there is a slight concern with his health, as he was sidelined twice in the 2020 season with elbow problems.
According to SET News on December 23, Jake Brigham’s salary with the Dragons is reportedly over 38,000 USD per month.
Wei Chuan Dragons News: Drew Gagnon
Another surprise signing by the Dragons was Drew Gagnon, who recently pitched in the KBO. According to the Dragons’ general manager, the team have signed Gagnon to a full year deal.
30-year-old Drew Gagnon turned pro in 2011 and had a brief MLB career from 2018 to 2019 pitching for the New York Mets (38.2 innings).
In 2019, he signed with the KIA Tigers of the KBO and posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over 149.2 innings. At the end of the 2020 season, the KIA Tigers decided not to renewal Gagnon’s contract for the 2021 season.
Based on the scouting report, Drew Gagnon throws five pitches. He heavily relied on the fastball (35%), changeup (25%) as his primary weapons. He also mixes his pitches with slider (17%), sinker (15%) and a curveball (7%).
Wei Chuan Dragons News: Junichi Tazawa
On December 18, rumours began to circulate that the Wei Chuan Dragons were targeting 34-year-old former MLB right-hander Junichi Tazawa (田澤純一) as one of their foreign players for the 2021 season.
Roughly two weeks later, on December 26, the Dragons formally announced the signing of Junichi Tazawa.
According to SET News, Junichi Tazawa is reportedly on a monthly salary of 20,000 USD with the Dragons. The Dragons are most likely to use Tazawa as their closer.
“We have been monitoring Junichi Tazawa for quite some time now,” said the Dragons manager. “Despite his age, his fastball velocity can still reach 154kph, and averaged around 147kph.”
“I will continue to play baseball as long as there is a team that needs me,” said Junichi Tazawa. “Although it will be a new stage and challenge, I will do my best to prepare for it.”
From 2009 to 2019, Junichi Tazawa compiled a record of 4.12 ERA and 1.32 WHIP across 395.1 innings in the MLB. He pitched for three different MLB teams and won a World Series ring with the Boston Red Sox in 2013.
Junichi Tazawa caused quite a stir back in 2008 as he decided to skip the NPB draft and sign with an MLB team. To prevent losing amateur talents, the NPB ended up setting up a “Tazawa Rule”.
Under the Tazawa Rule, should an amateur player skip the NPB to sign with an overseas organisation, he would have to serve a 2-3 years ban before he can play in the NPB.
The rule was eventually abolished in 2020 by the NPB. However, there seems to be some under the table consensus among all 12 NPB teams and Junichi Tazawa was not selected in the 2020 NPB draft.
Foreign players come and goes, therefore we compiled a foreign players tracker to keep track of all the foreign players signing for the 2021 CPBL season.
I like the signings of Brigham, Gagnon and Herrera. I think Gagnon will if healthy be a top five CPBL stater in 2021 even taking into account that the Dragons will lose a lot of games as an expansion team.
Tazawa is a big name and signed cheap because he can’t play in NPB. It makes sense for the Dragons to sign a foreign closer. Expansion teams lose a lot of blow outs and the games they win are close. A good closer can mean a few extra wins for a bad team.
I’m doubtful that Woodall has much left. It was a “safe” choice rather than a good choice. I’d rather sign winter league standouts Thomas Dorminy, Dave Kubiak or Greg Mahle for the same money than Woodall.
Despite being the closer of the team, I can see Tazawa being one of the most active guy in the bullpen. Because I don’t think we will see the Dragons be in many save situation next year. As for Woodall, Yeah, I think there are much better signing than him, but like you said, it was probably a safe choice for them / lottery signing.