CPBL Foreign Players Updates Volume #269

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Rakuten Monkeys News: Elián Leyva

On February 19, the Rakuten Monkeys announced the signing of 33-year-old Cuban right-hander Elián Leyva.

According to the Monkeys GM, Elián Leyva is a member of Cuba’s national team and will report to the Monkeys after the World Baseball Classic.

CPBL fans will definitely get an opportunity to see Elián Leyva in action a lot sooner than the 2023 CPBL Opening Day, as both Cuba and Taiwan are in Pool A in the World Baseball Classic.

Starting on February 26, Team Cuba will travel to Taiwan and play a string of warm-up games against the local CPBL teams in preparation for the 2023 WBC.

Elián Leyva began his professional career with the Cuban National Series, where he played for seven seasons from 2007 until he defected to Spain in 2016. Between 2018 and 2019, he was active within the Atlanta Braves system and split his time between Double-A and Triple-A.

After leaving the affiliated baseball at the end of 2019, Elián Leyva mostly spent his time in Mexico, playing in the LMB during the summer and LMP in the winter.

In 2022, he posted a respectful 4.65 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over 71.2 innings in the Mexican League (the LMB had a league-average ERA of 6.12). During the winter, he compiled a 2.44 ERA across 51.2 innings pitching for the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican Winter League.

It is worth noting that Elián Leyva was named Pitcher of the Year of the Mexican Winter League twice (2018-19 and 2021-22).

As of today, the Monkeys currently have Bradin Hagens, Brandon Waddell, Brooks Hall and Elián Leyva as their foreign players for the 2023 CPBL season.

Further Readings

Foreign players comes and goes, therefore we compiled a foreign players tracker to keep track of all the foreign players signing for the 2023 CPBL season.


  1. It feels like the CPBL has re-trenched a bit in terms of the foreign players teams are signing for 2023, at least compared to 2020, when Ariel Miranda and Henry Sosa got big contracts even before Covid hit, and then after Covid hit, CPBL teams got access to better foreign players looking for jobs when MLB shut down.

    At the time, it looked like CPBL teams might be willing to spend more to build up the brand, but Sosa and Miranda may have just been two pitchers who were worth big salaries to CPBL teams based on their specific circumstances at the time of their signings.

    Also, I think the big increase in MLB minimum salary of more than $100K to $700K in 2022 has also impacted the 4-A and AAA players available to the Asian major leagues. The KBO is capped at $1M for new foreign players (or foreign players who join a new KBO team), and NPB generally isn’t willing to raise salaries for most foreign rookies — NPB salaries get bigger for foreign players who prove themselves, but generally only veteran MLB players like Adam Jones or Andruw Jones get big contracts as NPB rookies. A big increase in the MLB minimum salary and its upward effect on salaries of players with 1 to 3 years of MLB service time changes the calculus a bit in deciding whether to sign with an Asian team,because even a little MLB service time means more money than it did a year ago plus the pension benefits that come with MLB service time.

    Elian Leyva wasn’t on my radar as much as he arguably should have been, probably because he is 34 in 2023. His age is definitely something of a concern, but he is also coming off two years of strong summer and winter seasons in Mexico.

    I would expect foreign player salaries to go up again in the CPBL in 2024 with the expansion Hawks starting major league play. The Hawks will have an incentive to spend relatively big on at least two of their foreign pitchers, and that may push other CPBL teams to spend more also.

    • I wonder if that got something to do with the de-juiced ball? Like teams feel like they no longer need “power pitchers / expensive pitchers” to suppress the hitters.

      While I don’t know their salaries, but I am assuming the Dragons are paying big bucks for Drew Gagnon and Jake Brigham. Maybe around 400-500K range? Must be something close to what Henry Sosa and Ariel Miranda were getting. (Just guessing here).

      I also noticed, Aaron Wilkerson, who was on the Monkeys radar this year, decided to sign with the Mexican League instead of the CPBL. Maybe the Monkeys did not offer enough? Odrisamer Despaigne told the media he also received offers from Taiwan, but I guess it didn’t pan out.

    • Not yet, I haven’t seen any news about it. It’s all about WBC right now in the media. But I suspect we might see some signings maybe around June or July, there is no way the Hawks pitching staff can handle the full farm team season all by themselves. Also, the Hawks managed to beat Netherlands WBC team in the warm-up game, so maybe there is some potential with this very very young pitching staff?

  2. Ariel Miranda signed a contract to pitch in the Mexican League to start the 2023 season. If his arm healthy, which is a big if after last year’s shoulder injury, he might be purchased by a CPBL team later in the year.

    Is there an update on Leyva’s WBC injury? Pro teams can’t be happy about the significant WBC injuries this spring.

    • If Ariel Miranda is healthy then definitely worth bringing him back as a mid-season signing. Can’t go wrong with a power pitcher that is also a lefty.

      As for Leyva’s WBC injury? I suspect (I actually don’t know anything), that he was faking it, since the umpires were onto him regarding using foreign substance, the whole “injured” right after inspection timing seemed a bit suspicious.


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