Dodgers make international play for promising Taiwanese outfielder

Los Angeles Dodgers v Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Dodgers v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

The international free agent signing period opened on Jan. 15, and while a number of teams scooped up at least two of MLB Pipeline's top-50 international prospects, the Dodgers mostly held off on costly contracts with the exception of Spanish shortstop Emil Morales (ranked No. 14).

It could've been because they were holding out hope that star Japanese pitcher Roki Sasaki would be able to come over from NPB as an amateur free agent and probably would've had to devote every leftover cent to him, but Sasaki re-signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines on Jan. 26, meaning the Dodgers would have to wait at least one more season.

LA had a budget of $5.284 million to spend on international free agents going into the period, and despite a handful of signings, they still had almost $4 million to spend after the initial wave was over.

On Thursday, Francys Romero reported that the Dodgers would give $700,000 to Taiwanese outfielder Ko Ching-Hsien, only 17 years old, a breakout in the U-18 Baseball World Cup last year, playing under the banner of Chinese Taipei.

Dodgers sign 17-year-old Taiwanese outfielder Ko Ching-Hsien as an international free agent

Ko played in nine games over the U-18 tournament and had a ridiculous .550/.690/.750 line with a double, a homer, four RBI, and seven walks in 20 at-bats for a 35% walk rate. He also scored six of Chinese Taipei's runs across those games. The team eventually placed second in the tournament behind Japan and ahead of South Korea.

The Dodgers still have a little over $3.15 million left in the budget to spend until the signing window closes on Dec. 15, and although Sasaki re-signed with the Marines, he could still be angling to come over after both MLB and NPB's seasons wrap up in the fall.

While $3.15 million would be an absolute highway robbery for a pitcher who could give Yoshinobu Yamamoto a run for his money as the best to come out of Japan, Sasaki would have to settle for a low payday in any case, as he'd be coming over under the age of 25 and would only qualify as an amateur, per MLB's international posting rules.