The Macoto Cobras' top pitcher Lin "Little Chick" En-yu was signed by Japan's Rakuten Eagles, the Cobras announced at a press conference in Taipei on Monday afternoon.
The move makes the second-year right-hander the third player that the Cobras have sent to Japan in the past four years.
Following in the footsteps of his predecessors Chang Chih-jia, who joined the Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) in 2002 and most recently Lin Ying-jeh, who left the Cobras after a stellar 2004 campaign for a spot on the Rakuten rotation, Lin En-yu will likely begin his Japanese stint next spring with the Eagles bullpen before the Rakuten coaching staff decides where he will fit best in a depleted staff.
The much anticipated signing of Little Chick brought an end to months of speculation as the league's most dominant hurler this year (last year's Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player) prepares to take on the new challenges posed by the hitters of the NPB, arguably the second most competitive professional league in the world.
While the terms of the signing were not revealed on Monday, many suspect that Lin will receive an instant multi-fold raise compared with his current annual salary of approximately NT$2 million (US$60,000).
Lin En-yu (188cm, 82kg), a product of the National Taiwan College of Physical Education, spent the past two seasons with the Cobras and finished with an outstanding 29-16 record and 1.73 earned run average. Along with a slew of hardware that he grabbed at the year-end awards' banquet last year, he is also expected to win this season's ERA crown and strikeout title, as well as having most wins (17). Opponents battered a lousy .179 against Lin over the past two seasons, making him the most feared pitcher on the mound in the league.
Wang Guan-hui will assume the commander's role with the Brother Elephants effective immediately, replacing former first-year manager Wu Si-hsien, who finished the year with a dead-last 40-59-1 mark.
Wang will join Sinon Bulls veteran Huang Chung-yi as the other rookie manager in the league when winter practices begin for the upcoming season.
Huang will retain his player eligibility in the upcoming season, at least for the time being, since he plans to get the two hits he will need to reach the 1,500-hit milestone, while replacing former skipper Liu Rong-hua at the helm.
Liu took the fall for failing to get the Bulls back into the Taiwan Series after having won two straight titles.