List of baseball players who defected from Cuba

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Orlando "El Duque" Hernández defected from Cuba in 1997

This is a list of notable Cuban baseball players who have defected since the beginning of Fidel Castro's presidency. Prior to the Cuban Revolution, which saw Castro rise to power in 1959, Cuban-born players often played in the American Negro Leagues and in Major League Baseball (MLB). Following the revolution, U.S.-Cuba relations became strained, and Castro ended professional baseball in Cuba[1] and forbade Cuban players to play abroad.[2]

Some players defected during the Cold War. Rogelio Álvarez, who debuted in MLB in 1960, was barred from continuing his professional career in the United States, and defected from Cuba through Mexico in 1963.[3] Bárbaro Garbey left Cuba in the Mariel boatlift in 1980.[1] After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba's economy struggled, leaving Cuba one of the poorest nations in the world.[2] Baseball players began to seek careers in MLB due to the high salaries. In 1991, René Arocha defected. He was followed by Rey Ordóñez in 1993. Rolando Arrojo defected during the 1996 Summer Olympics, which were held in the United States.[4] The Cuban government treats attempted defectors as disloyal, which led to increased defections. Orlando Hernández was loyal to Cuba, until they banned him from the national team following the defection of his half-brother, Liván.[5]

Players attempting to play in MLB often choose not to defect to the United States, because establishing residency in the United States means they must enter the MLB Draft. If they defect to another nation, they can become free agents, allowing them to choose their offer.[6] The largest contract given to a Cuban defector was first baseman José Dariel Abreu's six-year contract, signed in 2013, worth $68 million.[7] Outfielder Yasiel Puig received a $42 million contract in 2012.[8] The largest contract given to a pitcher was the $32 million the New York Yankees gave to José Contreras in 2002,[9] while the Cincinnati Reds signed Aroldis Chapman for $30.25 million in 2010.[10]

While some players who defect succeed in obtaining multi-million dollar contracts to play in MLB, many receive only minor league contracts and do not reach MLB.[2] Players are often separated from their families,[11] as Cuba often denies exit visas to the families of players who defected. This can lead to severed relationships, such as between Jorge Toca and the mother of his son.[5]

List[edit]

Key
dagger MLB All-Star
double-dagger Denotes player who is still active
Defectors
Player Position Year defected MLB debut MLB seasons Ref
Abreu, JoséJosé Abreu First baseman 2013 March 31, 2014 1double-dagger [12]
Abreu, MichelMichel Abreu Outfielder 2004 [13]
Álvarez, DarielDariel Álvarez Outfielder 2012 [14]
Álvarez, RogelioRogelio Álvarez First baseman 1963 September 18, 1960 2 [3]
Ametller, JesúsJesús Ametller Second baseman 1996 [15]
Anderson, LeslieLeslie Anderson Outfielder 2010 [16]
Arocha, RenéRené Arocha Pitcher 1991 April 9, 1993 4 [5]
Argüelles, NoelNoel Argüelles Pitcher 2008 [17]
Arruebarrena, ErisbelErisbel Arruebarrena Shortstop 2013 [18]
Arrojo, RolandoRolando Arrojodagger Pitcher 1996 April 1, 1998 5 [4]
Báez, DanysDanys Báezdagger Pitcher 1999 May 13, 2001 10 [19]
Bello, YenierYenier Bello Catcher 2013 [20]
Betancourt, YunieskyYuniesky Betancourt Shortstop 2003 July 28, 2005 9double-dagger [21]
Bueno, FrancisleyFrancisley Bueno Pitcher 2004 August 13, 2008 2 [2]
Cañizares, BárbaroBárbaro Cañizares First baseman 2004 June 11, 2009 1 [22]
Castillo, AlbertoAlberto Castillo Pitcher 1993 July 8, 2008 4 [23]
Castillo, RusneyRusney Castillo Outfielder 2013 [24]
Cazana, AmauryAmaury Cazana Outfielder 2005 [25]
Céspedes, YoenisYoenis Céspedes Outfielder 2011 March 28, 2012 3double-dagger [26]
Chapman, AroldisAroldis Chapmandagger Pitcher 2009 August 31, 2010 5double-dagger [11]
Colina, RobertoRoberto Colina First baseman 1996 [5]
Concepción, GerardoGerardo Concepción Pitcher 2011 [27]
Contreras, JoséJosé Contrerasdagger Pitcher 2002 March 31, 2003 11double-dagger [9]
Despaigne, OdrisamerOdrisamer Despaigne Pitcher 2013 [28]
Díaz, JuanJuan Díaz First baseman 1995 June 12, 2002 1 [29]
Díaz, AledmysAledmys Díaz Shortstop 2012 [14]
Elías, RoenisRoenis Elías Pitcher 2010 April 3, 2014 1double-dagger [30]
Escobar, YunelYunel Escobar Shortstop 2004 June 2, 2007 8double-dagger [31]
Fernández, JoséJosé Fernándezdagger Pitcher 2008 April 7, 2013 2double-dagger [32]
Fernández, OsvaldoOsvaldo Fernández Pitcher 1995 April 5, 1996 4 [33]
Garbey, BárbaroBárbaro Garbey First baseman 1980 April 3, 1984 3 [1]
García, AdonisAdonis García Outfielder 2011 [34]
Gómez, YasserYasser Gómez Outfielder 2008 [35]
González, Miguel AlfredoMiguel Alfredo González Pitcher 2013 [36]
Guerrero, AlexanderAlexander Guerrero Shortstop 2013 March 22, 2014 1double-dagger [37]
Hechavarria, AdeinyAdeiny Hechavarria Shortstop 2009 August 4, 2012 3double-dagger [38]
Hernández, AdriánAdrián Hernández Pitcher 2000 April 21, 2001 3 [39]
Hernández, LivánLiván Hernándezdagger Pitcher 1995 September 24, 1996 17 [40]
Hernández, MichelMichel Hernández Catcher 1996 September 6, 2003 3 [15]
Hernández, OrlandoOrlando Hernández Pitcher 1997 June 3, 1998 9 [41]
Herrera, YoslanYoslan Herrera Pitcher 2005 July 12, 2008 2double-dagger [42]
Hinojosa, DalierDalier Hinojosa Pitcher 2013 [43]
Iglesias, JoséJosé Iglesias Shortstop 2008 May 8, 2011 4double-dagger [17]
Iglesias, RacielRaciel Iglesias Pitcher 2013 [44]
Izquierdo, HanselHansel Izquierdo Pitcher 1994 April 21, 2002 1 [45]
Martí, YadelYadel Martí Pitcher 2008 [35]
Martín, LeonysLeonys Martín Outfielder 2010 September 2, 2011 4double-dagger [46]
Maya, YuneskyYunesky Maya Pitcher 2009 September 7, 2010 4double-dagger [47]
Miranda, JuanJuan Miranda First baseman 2005 September 18, 2008 4 [48]
Morales, AndyAndy Morales Third baseman 2000 [49]
Morales, KendrysKendrys Morales First baseman 2004 May 23, 2006 7double-dagger [50]
Mujica, YadilYadil Mujica Shortstop 2009 [51]
Núñez, VladimirVladimir Núñez Pitcher 1995 September 11, 1998 9 [52]
Ordóñez, ReyRey Ordóñez Shortstop 1993 April 1, 1996 9 [5]
Oropesa, EddieEddie Oropesa Pitcher 1993 April 2, 2001 4 [53]
Ortega, BillBill Ortega Outfielder 1996 September 7, 2001 1 [15]
Peña, BrayanBrayan Peña Catcher 1999 May 23, 2005 10double-dagger [31]
Peña, HassanHassan Peña Pitcher 2005 [54]
Prieto, ArielAriel Prieto Pitcher 1995 July 2, 1995 7 [55]
Puig, YasielYasiel Puig Outfielder 2012 June 3, 2013 2double-dagger [56]
Ramírez, AlexeiAlexei Ramírez Shortstop 2007 March 31, 2008 6double-dagger [57]
Ramírez, Roberto CarlosRoberto Carlos Ramírez Shortstop 2011 [57]
Rodríguez, EddyEddy Rodríguez Catcher 1993 August 2, 2012 1double-dagger [58]
Rodríguez, LarryLarry Rodríguez Pitcher 1995 [52]
Rodriguez, Omar LuisOmar Luis Rodriguez Pitcher 2012 [59]
Rojas, EuclidesEuclides Rojas Pitcher 1994 [55]
Ruíz, José JulioJosé Julio Ruíz First baseman 2009 [60]
Sánchez, AlexAlex Sánchez Outfielder 1994 June 15, 2001 7 [61]
Sanit, AmauriAmauri Sanit Pitcher 2006 May 12, 2011 1 [62]
Serrano, Juan YasserJuan Yasser Serrano Pitcher 2009 [63]
Siverio, MisaelMisael Siverio Pitcher 2013 [64]
Soler, AlayAlay Soler Pitcher 2003 May 24, 2006 1 [65]
Soler, JorgeJorge Soler Outfielder 2011 [66]
Suárez, DeinisDeinis Suárez Pitcher 2009 [67]
Tejera, MichaelMichael Tejera Pitcher 1994 September 8, 1999 5 [45]
Toca, JorgeJorge Toca First baseman 1998 September 12, 1999 3 [5][68]
Urrutia, HenryHenry Urrutia Outfielder 2011 July 20, 2013 2double-dagger [69]
Valdés, RaúlRaúl Valdés Pitcher 2003 April 11, 2010 4double-dagger [70]
Viciedo, DayánDayán Viciedo Outfielder 2008 June 20, 2010 5double-dagger [71]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

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