After 10 years of being a 4-team league, it seems CPBL might be one step closer for a long-awaited expansion. Several media outlets have reported that Japan’s Okinawa prefecture and the Australian Baseball League (ABL) both expressed interests to be the 5th and 6th CPBL team.
Apart from those two potential new teams. Locally based 綺麗集團 (Chii Lih Group) who currently have 2 industrial league teams have recently visited CPBL and inquired about the franchise requirement.
Okinawa & ABL as new CPBL teams
The CPBL commissioner is currently in Japan after received a formal request from Okinawa official expressing their interest to join CPBL. The team from Okinawa is very likely to be funded by Taroko Recreation Management, a Taiwanese company that operate in Okinawa.
Earlier this month, CEO of Australian Baseball League (ABL) Cam Vale visited CPBL. Along with the plans for future cooperation between the two leagues, the idea of forming an ABL team to join CPBL was also bought up.
“We are exploring the options of entering a team into the prestigious CPBL – through the major league and/or the minor league”
“Discussions are in a very preliminary stage with the CPBL and a number of other key stakeholders. The CPBL is seeking to expand and we are looking at creating a professional club team to compete in Asia, so it aligns for both parties to discuss” Said Cam Vale, CEO of ABL and Baseball Australia.
Here’s what we think
Over the years, we have heard the term “expansions” over and over again. Generally speaking, unless it’s signed and confirmed, these sort of news Taiwanese baseball fans tend to take it with a grain of salt.
But assuming this is going to happen, here’s our take on this “expansion”, and how we think it will happen.
New teams, but not staying for full season
The Okinawa and ABL teams most likely not going to be the full season 120 games team. Instead they’ll probably act as “guest-team” that only play away games, and do about 40 games within 2 months.
Their main purpose is to spice up the current 4-team match up. Very likely to see them touring CPBL around mid-way of the 2nd half season.
Why new teams will be on short season
Running a fully established professional team in Taiwan is not going to be cheap. We’re talking about at least 60 players, including both 1st and farm team. A single CPBL team generally will spend at least $6.6 millions USD per season.
So for teams like Okinawa and ABL that want to join CPBL. Being a “guest-team” is a much better option for them financially. Another concern we see is the source of players. Will Okinawa and ABL have enough players to handle the full season? (8 months, 120 games).
What’s the benefit for those 2 foreign teams?
There’s no such a thing as free lunch. So, what’s the benefit for teams from Okinawa and Australia get out of from joining CPBL?
The first thing we can think of is that both teams will be able to showcase their players to CPBL (Taiwan), NPB (Japan), KBO (Korea) or even MLB organisations. As most of the MLB and NPB organisations have scouts based in Taiwan, this is the best method for those players to gain attention from other professional leagues.
Our concern about this
Will they be able to have a strong enough team to compete in CPBL? As CPBL season is from March to October. During those time, the top Australian baseball talents are either in USA or Japan with their affiliated team. So, where’s team Australia going to get the players from?
While CPBL isn’t on the same level as NPB and KBO. But it is still sitting on the borderline of Double-A level overall. Having students or non-professional competing in CPBL is just going to lower the quality of game.
- CPBL announce prerequisites for teams expansion [May 2017]
- CPBL announce draft incentives for potential new teams [September 2017]