Left-hander Manny Bañuelos has signed with the Rakuten Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan, per Kiley McDaniel of ESPN. It’s a one-year deal with a vesting option for the Beverly Hills Sports Council client. The details of the vesting option aren’t publicly known.
Bañuelos, 33 in March, has 58 games of scattered MLB experience. He made seven appearances for Atlanta in 2015, 16 for the White Sox in 2019 and 35 more in 2022, split between the Yankees and Pirates. He logged 118 innings total between those stints and posted an earned run average of 5.64 in those. His 19.8% strikeout rate, 12.4% walk rate and 41.4% ground ball rate are all a few ticks worse than typical league averages.
In addition to that time in the majors, Bañuelos has shown a willingness to travel for new opportunities. The southpaw has played winter ball in Mexico many times, the country of his birth, as well as having played in Asian leagues. He played for the CPBL’s Fubon Guardians in 2020 and 2021 before returning to North America in 2022. Last year, he joined the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Both the Golden Eagles of the NPB and the Monkeys of the CPBL are owned by the Japanese technology conglomerate Rakuten, hence the names.
With the Golden Eagles in 2023, Bañuelos was mostly kept in the minors, only tossing two thirds of an inning with the big league club. But his 90 innings in the minors resulted in a 3.90 ERA. He’ll now return to Taiwan, rejoining the league that he played for in 2020 and 2021. As mentioned, he seems to have a willingness to travel for work and could wind up finding interest from varying countries at this time next year, depending on his performance and the outcome of that vesting option.