FA Movement: Lai Hung-Cheng to Rakuten Monkeys

On December 4, the Rakuten Monkeys fired the first shot at the 2020 FA market by signing left-hander 賴鴻誠 (Lai Hung-Cheng). With the signing, the CPBL once again have another player changing team via the free agency system since 2016.

According to the team, they signed Lai Hung-Cheng to a two-year deal worth 320,000 USD ($156,000 for 2021 and $164,000 for 2022).

“Our top priority was focusing on boosting our pitching depth with a left-handed pitcher,” said the Monkeys general manager.

“I was approached by multiple CPBL teams, but in the end, I chose to sign with the Monkeys because I grew up playing baseball in Taoyuan, it is my hometown,” said Lai Hung-Cheng.

Since 2013, Lai Hung-Cheng has been one of the reliable bullpen arms in the CPBL. He throws a fastball with the velocity topping out at 152kph, 2-seamer, cutter and changeup. In 2020, he posted 4.82 ERA and 1.45 WHIP across 37.1 innings.

Lai Hung-Cheng’s Transfer Fee

As for the transfer fee? Under the CPBL free agency system, the next step, the Monkeys would have to submit a 25-man protection list to Lai Hung-Cheng’s former team the Fubon Guardians.

Upon receiving the Monkeys’ protection list, the Guardians then will decide their payment from the Monkeys. It can be either 125% of Lai’s 2020 salary or 75% plus a player outside of the Monkeys’ protection list.

Since Lai Hung-Cheng’s 2020 salary was $104,000, if we are using the 125% option, his transfer fee at 125% would be $130,000. If the Guardians choose to go down the 75% route, then it would be $78,000 plus an additional player.

Update: December 14

On December 14, the Fubon Guardians selected Rakuten Monkeys’ infielder 楊瑞承 (Yang Jui-Cheng) along with 78,000 USD as free agent compensation for Lai Hung-Cheng.

The 27-year-old first-baseman was the seventh round draft pick in 2019 and posted an eye opening numbers in his rookie season with the Monkeys. In 2020, he slashed .345/.429/.527 across 63 plate appearances.


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