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Former MLB Players You Didn’t Know Played in Taiwan

 Conor Liguori  |    May 10th, 2024 2:00pm EDT

Manny Ramirez stands in front of the scoreboard on the Green Monster. (Photo by Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Chinese Professional Baseball League, which played its first season in 1990, is the highest level of professional baseball in Taiwan.  

Over the years, dozens of former Major League Baseball Players have signed contracts to play in the CPBL, either to continue their careers or to get a taste of baseball outside the United States.  

Here are 10 former MLB players you may not have known played in the Chinese Professional Baseball League.  


  1. Felix Pie, OF, Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions


Born in the Dominican Republic, Pie was a below-average MLB player in six seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, and Pittsburgh Pirates from 2007-13. He posted a 75 OPS+ in 425 games, indicating Pie was 25 percent worse than the average league hitter.  

Pie played five games with the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions in 2016 and hit .300 with one home run. After an ankle injury, the Lions released Pie, and he went on to play for the Gigantes del Cibao during the 2016-17 Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana season.  


  1. Jose Contreras, RHP, Chinatrust Brothers


Contreras was a one-time MLB All-Star with the Chicago White Sox in 2006. In 32 starts, he went 15-7 with a 3.61 ERA for the White Sox, who were World Series champions in 2005. He played his last MLB game with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013.  

The Cuban-born pitcher played his second to last professional baseball season in the CPBL with the Brothers in 2015, going 4-1 with a 3.45 ERA in seven starts at the crisp age of 43.  


  1. Justin Nicolino, LHP, Rakuten Monkeys


Nicolino appeared in 50 games for the Miami Marlins from 2015-17 and struggled, striking out just 3.8 hitters per nine innings and posting a 4.65 ERA.  

He couldn’t find his groove in the CPBL in 2020 with the Monkeys either, as the team released him after eight appearances. Nicolino struck out 39 in 39.2 innings but gave up 50 hits and five home runs. However, the lefty was successful in the Atlantic League with the High Point Rockers in 2022, going 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA in six games.  


  1. Freddy Garcia, RHP, EDA Rhinos


Garcia was teammates with Jose Contreras for the 2005 White Sox and played for seven MLB franchises during a 14-year MLB career from 1999 to 2013. He won the ERA title (3.05 ERA) in 2001 with the Seattle Mariners.  

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Garcia made 25 starts for the Rhinos in 2014 and was the highest-paid player in CPBL history, signing a seven-month contract worth up to $56,000 monthly. He went 11-9 and threw six scoreless innings in his debut in a 5-0 win against the Chinatrust Brother Elephants.  


  1. Armando Galarraga, RHP, Chinatrust Brothers 


Galarraga is infamous for his near-perfect game in June 2010 with the Detroit Tigers. He retired the first 26 batters in his start against the Cleveland Guardians, and then first base umpire Jim Joyce made the worst safe call in MLB history.  

Galarraga’s career continued, and he signed a contract with the Brothers in April 2014. In 10 appearances, he posted a 4.47 ERA, and the club released him in July.  


  1. Tilson Brito, 2B, Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions


Brito played two seasons in MLB from 1996-97 with the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics, hitting three home runs in 92 games.  

However, the infielder from the Dominican Republic led the CPBL in home runs and RBI in back-to-back seasons from 2007-08, setting a single-season CPBL record with 33 dingers in 2007, a record broken by Kao Hui-Kuo of the Fubon Guardians in 2015.  


  1. Melvin Mora, 3B, Mercuries Tigers 


Mora played one season in the CPBL with the Tigers in 1998 before his MLB career took off with the Baltimore Orioles. The Venezuelan-American right-handed slugger hit .335 with three home runs and a .906 OPS while in Taiwan.  

He made his MLB debut with the New York Mets in 1999 and was a two-time All-Star in 2003 and 2005 with the Orioles.  


  1. Jair Jurrjens, RHP, Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions 


The Dutch-Curacaon pitcher was reasonably effective in eight MLB seasons from 2007-14, going 53-38 in 130 games for Detroit, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Colorado.  

Jurrjens did not fare well on the mound in the CPBL in 2016, posting a 5.38 ERA in 90.1 innings. He dealt with multiple injuries, which led to his release in August.  


  1. Jose Castillo, 2B, Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions 


Castillo was a smooth defender in the infield with the Pittsburgh Pirates but never found consistency with his bat in MLB from 2004-08. In 2009, he slashed .314/.346/.500 with 13 home runs for the Lions and helped the club win the Taiwan Series over the Brother Elephants.  

In 2018, Castillo passed away in a car crash in Venezuela in an attempted robbery. Former MLB players Luis Valbuena and Carlos Rivera were in the car with Castillo. Rivera survived, but Valbuena was killed in the crash.  


  1. Manny Ramirez, OF, EDA Rhinos


Ramirez enjoyed an incredible 19-year MLB career, mainly with the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Guardians. He was a 12-time All-Star, nine-time Silver Slugger, and a two-time World Series champion with Boston.  

He signed a contract with the EDA Rhinos in 2013 and hit .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBI in 49 games as a 41-year-old. In June 2013, Ramirez opted out of his contract with the Rhinos to be closer to his family. He finished his MLB career with 555 home runs and a .996 OPS.  


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Conor Liguori