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 badly and faced severe repercussions from the Embargo.[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 is outfielder Rusney Castillo's seven-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, signed in 2014, worth $72.5 million.[7] First baseman José Dariel Abreu signed a six-year contract worth $68 million with the Chicago White Sox in 2013.[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 multimillion-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
José Abreudagger First baseman 2013 March 31, 2014 4double-dagger [12]
Michel Abreu Outfielder 2004 [13]
Dariel Álvarez Outfielder 2012 August 28, 2015 2double-dagger [14]
Rogelio Álvarez First baseman 1963 September 18, 1960 2 [3]
Yordan Álvarez Outfielder 2016 June 9, 2019 1double-dagger [15]
Jesús Ametller Second baseman 1996 [16]
Leslie Anderson Outfielder 2010 [17]
René Arocha Pitcher 1991 April 9, 1993 4 [5]
Noel Argüelles Pitcher 2008 [18]
Erisbel Arruebarrena Shortstop 2013 May 23, 2014 1double-dagger [19]
Rolando Arrojodagger Pitcher 1996 April 1, 1998 5 [4]
Danys Báezdagger Pitcher 1999 May 13, 2001 10 [20]
Roberto Baldoquin Second baseman 2014 [21]
Alexei Bell Outfielder 2016
Yenier Bello Catcher 2013 [22]
Yuniesky Betancourt Shortstop 2003 July 28, 2005 9 [23]
Francisley Bueno Pitcher 2004 August 13, 2008 2 [2]
Bárbaro Cañizares First baseman 2004 June 11, 2009 1 [24]
Daniel Carbonell Outfielder 2013 [25]
Alberto Castillo Pitcher 1993 July 8, 2008 4 [26]
Diosdany Castillo Pitcher 2014 [27]
Rusney Castillo Outfielder 2013 September 17, 2014 2double-dagger [28]
Amaury Cazana Outfielder 2005 [29]
Yoenis Céspedesdagger Outfielder 2011 March 28, 2012 6double-dagger [30]
Aroldis Chapmandagger Pitcher 2009 August 31, 2010 8double-dagger [11]
Roberto Colina First baseman 1996 [5]
Gerardo Concepción Pitcher 2011 June 21, 2016 1 [31]
José Contrerasdagger Pitcher 2002 March 31, 2003 11double-dagger [9]
Jozzen Cuesta First baseman 2013 [32]
Odrisamer Despaigne Pitcher 2013 June 23, 2014 2double-dagger [33]
Aledmys Díaz Shortstop 2012 April 5, 2016 2double-dagger [14]
Juan Díaz First baseman 1995 June 12, 2002 1 [34]
Yandy Díaz Third baseman 2013 April 3, 2017 1 [35]
Roenis Elías Pitcher 2010 April 3, 2014 4double-dagger [36]
Yunel Escobar Shortstop 2004 June 2, 2007 11double-dagger [37]
José Fernándezdagger Pitcher 2008 April 7, 2013 4 [38]
José Miguel Fernández Infielder 2015
Osvaldo Fernández Pitcher 1995 April 5, 1996 4 [39]
Bárbaro Garbey First baseman 1980 April 3, 1984 3 [1]
Adonis García Outfielder 2011 May 19, 2015 3double-dagger [40]
Adolis García Outfielder 2016 [41]
Onelki García Pitcher 2010 September 11, 2013 2double-dagger [42]
Yasser Gómez Outfielder 2008 [43]
Miguel Alfredo González Pitcher 2013 September 3, 2014 1 [44]
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Infielder 2016 April 20, 2018 [45]
Yulieski Gurriel Infielder 2016 August 21, 2016 2double-dagger [45]
Alex Guerrero Shortstop 2013 March 22, 2014 2double-dagger [46]
Vladimir Gutiérrez Pitcher 2015 [47]
Adeiny Hechavarria Shortstop 2009 August 4, 2012 6double-dagger [48]
Adrián Hernández Pitcher 2000 April 21, 2001 3 [49]
Liván Hernándezdagger Pitcher 1995 September 24, 1996 17 [50]
Michel Hernández Catcher 1996 September 6, 2003 3 [16]
Orlando Hernández Pitcher 1997 June 3, 1998 9 [51]
Yoslan Herrera Pitcher 2005 July 12, 2008 2double-dagger [52]
Dalier Hinojosa Pitcher 2013 May 3, 2015 2double-dagger [53]
Andy Ibáñez Second baseman 2014 [54]
José Iglesias Shortstop 2008 May 8, 2011 7double-dagger [18]
Raisel Iglesias Pitcher 2013 April 12, 2015 3double-dagger [55]
Hansel Izquierdo Pitcher 1994 April 21, 2002 1 [56]
Raudel Lazo Pitcher 2011 September 5, 2015 [57]
Yoan López Pitcher 2014 [58]
Yadel Martí Pitcher 2008 [43]
Leonys Martín Outfielder 2010 September 2, 2011 7double-dagger [59]
Yunesky Maya Pitcher 2009 September 7, 2010 3double-dagger [60]
Víctor Víctor Mesa Outfielder 2018
Juan Miranda First baseman 2005 September 18, 2008 4 [61]
Andy Morales Third baseman 2000 [62]
Kendrys Morales First baseman 2004 May 23, 2006 10double-dagger [63]
Adrian Morejón Pitcher 2015 [64]
Yadil Mujica Shortstop 2009 [65]
Ronnier Mustelier Outfielder/Third baseman 2009 [66]
Vladimir Núñez Pitcher 1995 September 11, 1998 9 [67]
Héctor Olivera Second baseman 2014 September 1, 2015 1double-dagger [68][69]
Jorge Oña Outfielder 2015 [70]
Rey Ordóñez Shortstop 1993 April 1, 1996 9 [5]
Eddie Oropesa Pitcher 1993 April 2, 2001 4 [71]
Bill Ortega Outfielder 1996 September 7, 2001 1 [16]
Brayan Peña Catcher 1999 May 23, 2005 13 [37]
Hassan Peña Pitcher 2005 [72]
Orlando Pérez Infielder 2013 [25]
Ariel Prieto Pitcher 1995 July 2, 1995 7 [73]
Yasiel Puigdagger Outfielder 2012 June 3, 2013 5double-dagger [74]
Alexei Ramírezdagger Shortstop 2007 March 31, 2008 8double-dagger [75]
Roberto Carlos Ramírez Shortstop 2011 [75]
Victor Rivas First baseman 2013 [76]
Luis Robert Outfielder 2017
Eddy Rodríguez Catcher 1993 August 2, 2012 1double-dagger [77]
Larry Rodríguez Pitcher 1995 [67]
Omar Luis Rodriguez Pitcher 2012 [78]
Euclides Rojas Pitcher 1994 [73]
José Julio Ruiz First baseman 2009 [79]
Alex Sánchez Outfielder 1994 June 15, 2001 7 [80]
Amauri Sanit Pitcher 2006 May 12, 2011 1 [81]
Juan Yasser Serrano Pitcher 2009 [82]
Misael Siverio Pitcher 2013 [83]
Alay Soler Pitcher 2003 May 24, 2006 1 [84]
Jorge Soler Outfielder 2011 August 27, 2014 4double-dagger [85]
Deinis Suárez Pitcher 2009 [86]
Michael Tejera Pitcher 1994 September 8, 1999 5 [56]
Jorge Toca First baseman 1998 September 12, 1999 3 [5][87]
Yasmany Tomás Outfielder 2014 April 4, 2015 3double-dagger [88]
Henry Urrutia Outfielder 2011 July 20, 2013 2double-dagger [89]
Raúl Valdés Pitcher 2003 April 11, 2010 5double-dagger [90]
Dayán Viciedo Outfielder 2008 June 20, 2010 5double-dagger [91]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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