The Detroit Tigers have agreed to terms with Taiwanese pitcher Ni Fu-te.
The club announced on Tuesday that the 26-year-old left-hander will attend spring training in Lakeland, Florida, as a non-roster invitee after Ni declined an option to join the Taiwan-based Chinese Professional Baseball League’s (CPBL) Brother Elephants
The team declined to release additional details of Ni’s contract.
During a press conference in Taipei, Kevin Hooker and Tigers’ Taiwan scout Allen Lin ended weeks of speculation as to whether Ni would remain in Taiwan or try his luck overseas.
By signing with the Tigers, Ni becomes the first CPBL player to sign with an American Major League Baseball (MLB) team. He had also received offers from various other US and Japanese professional baseball teams, including the Seattle Mariners.
Hooker said Ni would arrive in Florida before Feb. 14 to participate in the Tigers’ spring training, where he will compete for a position in the team’s 25-player list.
“We have high expectations for Ni and hope he can soon play in the Major League,” Hooker said.
“I am sure his mental toughness and variation in pitches will help him make the transition from the CPBL to the MLB,” he said.
Ni has spent the past two seasons pitching for the China Trust Whales in the CPBL, finishing last year with a 5-12 record. He had a 3.34 ERA and a league-leading 132 strikeouts in 145.1 innings pitched.
He also pitched for Taiwan at the Beijing Olympics.