The Price is Right: Looking at the Salaries of Starting CPBL Players


大家好,

Ever wonder what a starting CPBL player makes? Well you're in luck. The assiduously bright people here at CPBL English have combed through all the data in order to give the reader a broader view of the financial landscape in the CPBL, as well as Taiwan. 

It’s important to bring attention to the monetary side of the game here in Taiwan as the league is increasingly reaching a wider, international audience; many of whom may be unaware of all the aspects that contribute to players’ wages. These wages are unquestionably warrented as the daily grind of a Taiwanese ballplayer is one that isn't as glamorous as fans may believe. Some of the adverse factors Include: the heat -- which averages 33°C (91°F) during the summer days, the lack of free time -- one day off a week for nine months of the year, separation from family, constant physical wear on the body, an ultra competitive work environment, one-year contracts that offer little job security and the fact that a career can be taken away in a single play through injury. Having people throw 90-mile-per-hour, round objects at you is somewhere down the list of occupational hazards.  

Although the teams in the CPBL don't pay their players as much as Japan and South Korea, Taiwanese ball players can make a very well-deserved and comfortable salary. This is in comparison to other occupations in Taiwan and to the average, or mean, income on the island. It should be made clear that these figures are publicly available and that pointing out one's earnings is a sensitive topic and openly talking about it may differ from culture to culture. Here, in Taiwan, talking about things like wages, rent, mortgages, etc., is more commonplace.

From Cpblstats.com’s useful article from last year stating 2017 average CPBL salaries we see that the average annual salary was US$62,400 (including the entire 60-man roster) and US$50,000 for players 24-29 years of age. For our purpose, we are going to focus more on the teams’ most important Taiwanese players: the team’s projected line-ups and their best bench player, their top local starters and their best bullpen arms. Import players will be omitted as their salary information is not made public.


Here are some important things that you should know regarding the CPBL and Taiwan:

  • Players are paid monthly. Taiwanese players are paid every month, including the off-season while imports are paid just for the months they are here (~8 months).
  • While rookie contracts may seem low, these players also sign larger signing bonuses (USD six-digit bonuses for early-round picks) and have incentive-based contracts as well.
  • The minimum salary for first-team players is roughly US$29,000 a year, while second-team players have a floor of about US$20,000 a year.
  • Players are also rumored to have in-game bonuses that can be awarded by achieving certain goals throughout a game; such as home runs, quality starts, etc. Players only receive compensation if the team wins. These vary from team to team and are not made public so the information on them is speculative.
  • Players usually play under one year contracts that are renegotiated annually.
  • Taiwanese player contracts are all publicly available while import contract details are not released.
  • Players can become free agents after eight years of service time.
  • The majority of the players live in team dorms for the season.

Here we see the average base salaries of some other Taiwanese professions and average Taiwanese income figures:

  • The Taiwanese minimum wage salary as of 2017 was ~NT$252,000 a year (US$8,640) (source).
  • The Taiwanese median wage, a more accurate reflection of the average wage, was NT$487,344 a year (US$16,740) as of 2016 (source)



What about taxes? The Taiwanese tax brackets look like this:

  • 12% on US$18K-$42K
  • 20% on US$42K-$83K
  • 30% on US$83K-$156K
  • 40% on US$156K-$356K
  • 45% on >US$356K.

How does the cost of living affect the salary? We compared an average, big American city (Austin, Texas), which is the 35th most expensive city in the US by the cost of living index, to Taoyuan city (home to the Lamigo Monkeys), the fourth most populated city in Taiwan.


Ok, with the background stuff out of the way, let's look at team’s projected line-ups and their most important, local pitchers’ annual salaries in US$ and NTD$ and how those numbers compare around the league.


The Uni-Lions come in with the lowest line-up total for the year; coming in at just under US$ 1M annually. Having three rookie contracts in the line-up really keeps costs down, but Chen Chieh-Hsien and Su Chih-Chieh will be commanding much larger contracts as they are two of the most talented young position players in the league.

Compared to the other organizations, the Lions have a relatively cheap A-bullpen that is a very talented group overall.



The middle of the Monkeys’ line-up is a big part of their US$148K average yearly salary. They are the only team to have two players (Wang Po-Jung 2, Lin Hung-Yu 1) with three league MVP titles.

The team needs credit for using cost-effective and productive players to surround the vets. This is a very deep roster that has three or four unmentioned position players that manager Hung I-Chung has to find at-bats for weekly

The league's best bullpen is also getting paid like it. The Monkeys also have arguably the best two local pitchers in their rotation with Wang Yi-Cheng and Lin Hua-Ching.


This one is a little trickier as the contracts of the newest members of the Guardians -- Chang Cheng-Wei, Chiang Chih-Hsien and Chen Hung-Wen -- are based on 2017’s numbers. As our reader Po Hui Ko points out, the media speculation is that these new contracts may be less than that of their 2017 contracts. Regardless, this line-up and team have been paid well by ownership, who will expect results in 2018, one year after finishing in last place. The team has drafted and relied heavily on former MLB-affiliated talents (Hu Chin-Lung, Kao Kuo-Hui, Lin Che-Hsuan, Ni Fu-De and Kuo Hong-Chih), therefore costing the team more as opposed to developing young Taiwanese talents that earn less.

Lin Yi-Chuan has the league’s second-highest contract at US$310,000 annually, which was earned after collecting an amazing three league MVP awards (2009,2013,2014).



Thanks to Lin Chih-Sheng’s US$500K yearly salary -- the league's highest contract, the Chinatrust Brothers have the most expensive line-up in the league. But with Lin stuck with the second team, until further notice, the Brothers actually have a much more lower average cost. They have some very team-friendly contracts at shortstop, third base and catcher.

Peng Cheng-Min and Chou Ssu-Chi own the league’s third and fourth highest salaries, respectively. Peng captured a league MVP in 2010 and has a career batting average of .338, which spans 18 years while Chou was also an MVP winner in 2012 after hitting .365 reaching base at a ridiculous rate of .462.

The bullpen has really turned over since manager Cory Snyder took over in 2017. The skipper is using younger arms that he seems more comfortable with. Their seventh-, eighth- and ninth-inning pitchers earn less than Monkeys’ closer Chen Yu-Hsun combined.

TL;DR
With only four teams and a low turnover rate, breaking into the CPBL is no easy task. However, if a player can carve out a role for himself and withstand the plethora of obstacles that face not only Taiwanese players, but all professional ball players, then a very nice living can be made in this trade here in Taiwan. 

Comments

  1. If what was reported in the media is true, I believe those former Brothers players are earning lesser under the Guardians' payroll.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the info. Will add a note

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  2. I always find salary data very interesting, because at the end of the day, it tells you a lot about the quality of players in a league, given what they could be making elsewhere. If you do another piece in the future, other useful data to include would be each player's age and years of CPBL experience, since veteran status usually has a lot to do with salary amount.

    It's interesting to know what Wang Po-jung is making. I would bet dollars to donuts he is extremely well paid for a CPBL player of his age and years of service. It's also pretty clear that he'll be playing in NPB next year, if his 2018 is anything close to his 2016 and 2017.

    An NPB team could offer him $400K to $600K next year, easily beating out what Lamigo could likely pay Wang, and he'd still be a relative bargain to an NPB team, given what they typically pay for top foreign talent.

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    Replies
    1. Ya, I missed the boat on age/years experience. It really proves the worth of a lot of contracts and shows how much an organization values it's younger talent.

      Wang should be getting more than that, 7-digits probably. Thanks for the read and, as usual, great insight.

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