Former Dodgers relief pitcher Chin-hui Tsao reportedly has a minor league contract with the team, attempting a comeback after being out of baseball for five years, per United Daily News out of Taiwan.
UPDATE: The Dodgers haven't yet made the deal official, but addressed his pursuit on Jan. 7, 2015. Tsao will likely not get an invitation to major league camp in spring training.
Tsao, who turns 34 in June, put up a 4.38 ERA in 21 games with the Dodgers in 2007, his only season in Los Angeles, with 16 strikeouts and eight walks in 24⅔ innings. When Kenley Jansen had his "hidden" perfect game in 2013, he surpassed a mark last hit by Tsao:
Kenley Jansen is the first #Dodgers reliever to retire 25 in a row since Chin-Hui Tsao, April 21-May 2, 2007.— Dodgers PR (@DodgersPR) August 4, 2013
After pitching in the Royals minor league system in 2008, Tsao returned to his native Taiwan to pitch for the Brother Elephants in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, but after the 2009 Taiwan Series was suspended by the CPBL for life for being linked to a game-fixing scandal.
The China Times wrote more about Tsao in December:
Tsao was given a lifetime ban by the CPBL after being accused of match fixing and accepting inappropriate bribes from gamblers and gangsters during his single season playing professionally in Taiwan in 2009.
Although the allegations never resulted in indictments, Tsao was disgraced, and the CPBL, which has long been plagued by game-fixing and gambling scandals, seems determined to prevent Tsao from getting another opportunity to play baseball professionally.
After not pitching for five years, an opportunity arose earlier this month for Tsao, who signed on with the Adelaide Bite of the Australian Baseball League. But after pressure from the CPBL, the ABL decided to honor the suspension of Tsao before he pitched in Australia. ABL general manager Ben Foster explained the decision to The Advertiser in Adelaide:
"Despite initially accepting the registration of his contract based upon on the information we had at the time, we’ve made the choice to suspend him indefinitely based upon the new information," Foster said.
"We’re not at liberty to go into details, but we didn’t feel comfortable proceeding with his registration. We certainly don’t wish Tsao any ill-will in terms of his pursuit to resume his career, it just won’t be happening in the ABL at this point in time."
In other words, even if Tsao does have an agreement with the Dodgers, MLB would need to approve the deal, potentially risking damaging its relationship with the CPBL.
The United Daily News report noted that Tsao's fastball topped out at 93 mph last week.
Tsao pitched in parts of four major league seasons from 2003-2007 with the Rockies and Dodgers, putting up a 5.40 ERA in 50 games, including eight starts, with 60 strikeouts and 34 walks in 88⅓ innings.
Thanks to Peter Wang of ETTV for assistance with the news and translation in this report.