What Do Players in Taiwan’s CPBL Make? 2017-2018 Update

About three years ago, I wrote a post which stated that foreign stars in Taiwan’s CPBL typically make around $150,000 a season.  I now think that this estimate is probably on the high side for all but established foreign stars.

I suspect that the lowest paid foreign players in the CPBL probably make as little as $10,000 per month for a seven or eight month long season, based on the fact that the Independent-A Atlantic League and the Mexican League (summer), from which the CPBL routinely draws talent, pay far less.  However, Rob over at CPBL Stats informed me during the 2017-2018 off-season that he believes rookie foreign pitchers typically start at $15,000 to $18,000 a month, and that only foreign pitchers pitching as a fourth pitcher (CPBL major league teams have a three roster spot cap on foreign players) in the CPBL’s minor league make the $7,500 to $10,000 a month I thought might be the lowest foreign player salaries.

The Atlantic League maximum is still $3,000 per month for a 5.5 month season, and Mexican (summer) League salaries for foreign players start at about $5,500 per month and are capped at $8,000 per month for a 4.5 month season.  Foreign players in the Mexican Pacific (winter) League probably max out at as much as $10,000 to $12,000 a month for a 2.5 month season with veteran foreign players like Chris Roberson, who routinely play for Mexico’s team in the Caribbean Series, likely making even more, although I don’t have any idea how many foreign players actually make that much.  There are also reports that the more successful Mexican League teams cheat on the salaries they pay to their best foreign players.

At those rates, anything much over $10,000 per month for a longer season would generally be a substantial raise for players coming out of either the Mexican or Atlantic Leagues to play in the CPBL.  Needless to say, CPBL teams need to pay just enough to convince players from the Americas to travel half way around the world to play baseball in Taiwan.  Also, a draw to foreign players is that success in the CPBL can be a launching pad for opportunities to sign more lucrative contracts to play in South Korea’s KBO or Japan’s NPB.

However, new foreign players in CPBL sign half season contracts (the CPBL plays a split season with two halves of 60 games each), and many foreign players play only half a season in the CPBL if their performance is not impressive or if they’re replacing a foreign player who wasn’t effective.  The recent trend in the CPBL has been to sign far more pitchers out of the Atlantic League than the Mexican League, suggesting that my guesstimate on starting CPBL salaries if probably accurate in many cases.

The average salary for foreign pitchers in the CPBL is reported to be between $15,000 to $20,000 a month, and established foreign CPBL stars like Mike Loree and Orlando Roman, or players with significant MLB major league experience could well be making significantly more than $150,000 a year now. [A comment below indicates that Loree probably made somewhere between $210,000 to $260,000 in 2017, once performance bonuses are included.]

However, Loree and Roman were playing in their 5th and 4th CPBL seasons respectively in 2017 and foreign players generally do not last or stay this long in this league, because they have to stay healthy and pitch exceptionally well by CPBL standards to return each year.  Too much CPBL success can also mean a move up to the KBO or NPB.  I also assume that the CPBL is like other Asian pro leagues, where successful and consistent veteran service is typically required for a max level contract unless the player has substantial major league experience.

I also suspect that CPBL teams can’t afford to give big raises each year if initial contracts are already as much as $15,000 to $18,000 a month.  A foreign pitcher needs to be consistently great in the CPBL over a period of years to make more than $25,000 a month.

It’s worth noting that Mike Loree left the CPBL to pitch in the KBO’s minor league in 2014 for an amount reported to be somewhere between $150,000 to $200,000.  That would strongly suggest that Loree’s CPBL team offered him less money for 2014 in spite of the fine CPBL season he had had in 2013.

The website CPBL English provides some useful information on top CPBL salaries.  Before the 2016 season,  then 12-year veteran star Lin Chih Sheng signed a reported three-year deal that will pay him as much as 15 million New Taiwan dollars (about $498,500 at current exchange rates) per year, although 20% of that total contract amount is performance bonuses.  That set a record for largest total value of contract in CPBL history.

The previous record was held by long-time MLB major leaguer Freddy Garcia who, according to AP, signed a seven-month contract that paid him $50,000 a month plus an additional $6,000 in performance bonuses, for a total possible pay-out of $392,000, to play for the EDA Rhinos in 2014.  Garcia had a good season for the Rhinos, but it was his lone season in the CPBL.

However, the year before former MLB super-star Manny Ramirez played for half a season in the CPBL on a contract that paid him $25,000 per month.  Manny had a huge positive impact on CPBL attendance in the first half and was reportedly offered $40,000 to $50,000 per month for the second half of the 2013 season, but elected to return to the MLB system instead.

The best foreign pitchers (all foreign players in the CPBL are currently pitchers) could thus now be making well more than $150,000 per season, particularly once they’ve pitched two full seasons in Taiwan and performed exceptionally well throughout.

Additional relevant information from CPBL English is that 1st round CPBL draft picks are now receiving signing bonuses as high as NT$5.6 million ($186,100) but starting salaries of only $2,700 to $3,300 per month.  You’d need a large signing bonus to live on that, particularly since a lot of draft picks are coming out of Taiwanese Universities.

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7 Comments on “What Do Players in Taiwan’s CPBL Make? 2017-2018 Update”

  1. Burly Says:

    cpblstats.com reports that the average season salary for CPBL players in 2017 is $62,400, with players between the age of 30 to 35, which includes many of the foreign pitchers, making on average $104,800.

    cpblstats also says that foreign pitchers typically make $15,000 to $25,000 per month, but veteran major leaguer Freddie Garcia received $50,000 per month plus another $6,000 in possible performance bonuses to pitch in the CPBL in 2014. Garcia’s contract was the biggest in CPBL history until Lin’s contract mentioned in my post above.

    • Rob Says:

      Hi Burly, the average season salary I posted does not include foreign players. It’s only domestic Taiwanese players.

      Foreign players these days are signed with 3 months to half-season contract at the time. CPBL season is about 8 months (9 if include spring camp)

      There’s rumour that Loree makes around $30,000 per month this season and he was signed with a full year contract similar to NPB and KBO contract structure.

      For a lot of younger Taiwanese players, the performance based incentive is where they make the money. Normally those targets are quite reasonable and achievable.

      To give you some examples on the incentive that I was talking about. Here’s the 2017 drafted players contract details, which I listed all their incentives

      (http://cpblstats.com/2017-cpbl-draft-overall-contract-details/)

      There’s also post-game bonus too. (It’s under the table, nobody know how much they’re getting, but everyone knows it exist within the league)

      For example, if player A collects 2 hits and 2 RBI, that player will receive $200 after the game from the organisation.

      Anyway, I hope this info will help!

      • Burly Says:

        Thank you very much for your informative comment. I was particularly curious to know what Mike Loree is making this season, as his performance and CPBL longevity make him the best bet for most highly paid current foreign player. Assuming he does not move on to the KBO or NPB in 2018, I would expect he’ll get a raise from the Fubon Guardians next season, after the terrific year he has had in 2017.

  2. Burly Says:

    I recently determined that Mexican League (summer) foreign players are capped at about $8,000 per month. I still think that many foreign pitchers in CPBL start at around $7,500 to $10,000, as CPBL teams have recently shown a much greater preference for signing Atlantic League pitchers than Mexican League pitchers, particularly during the season.

  3. Burly Says:

    mykbo.net says that Mike Loree made only $150,000 ($120,000 salary plus $30,000 signing bonus) for his year with the KT Wiz in the season before the Wiz joined the KBO’s major league.

  4. Burly Says:

    Mike Loree just received a little over $10,000 in prize money for being the CPBL’s best pitcher and league leader in multiple pitching categories in 2017. Quadruple Crown winner Wang Po-jung received about $17,500 for being, among other things, the CPBL’s MVP.

  5. Burly Says:

    In my latest communication with Rob of CPBL Stats regarding foreign player compensation, he wrote that he believes that foreign pitchers typically start at $15,000 to $18,000 per month. That sounds like a lot to me given how many pitchers the CPBL draws from the Atlantic League and how low Atlantic League salaries are (maxing out at $3,000 per month). However, Rob would likely know better than I do, based on his access to Taiwanese sources.


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