CPBL expansion team Wei Chuan Dragons sign Junichi Tazawa

CPBL expansion team Wei Chuan Dragons sign Junichi Tazawa
07/01/2021
The veteran right-hander went from Japan's corporate leagues to MLB, skipping the NPB Draft and forcing legislation that appears under his name in the history books.

The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) will expand to five participants this year with the expansion team Wei Chuan Dragons returning to the CPBL after their dissolution in 1999. This will mark the first time the CPBL has five participating teams since 2008.

The Dragons, who, as the expansion team during the 2021 season, can have five foreign players on the active roster and use four foreign players in the first-team (compared to four and three for other teams), have signed veteran right-handed pitcher TAZAWA Junichi as their major international signing.

The 34-year old was born in Japan but played his whole professional career in the United States. After he went undrafted by Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) clubs out of High School, Tazawa joined Nippon Oil in the corporate league. He went 10-1 with a 1.02 earned run average in the 2008 season.

His performance attracted the interest of Major League Baseball's (MLB) Boston Red Sox, for whom he signed for in 2009, helping them win the 2013 World Series. He then played for the Miami Marlins (2017, 2018) and the Los Angeles Angels (2018). He also played Minor League Baseball (MiLB) for the Detroit Tigers, the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds.

The 12 NPB clubs went onto pass legislation, later known as The Tazawa Rule, to reduce the possibility of undrafted players being signed overseas.

Tazawa returned to Japan for the 2020 season, playing for the Saitama Musashi Heat Bears in the independent Challenge League.