With the 2015 Major League Baseball league in full-swing, there are many new and exciting players to cheer on. One enjoyable aspect of the sport of baseball is that it is a collective of all sorts of players from all over the world, all competing at the highest level. Each team is comprised of a variety of athletes who have left their home countries in order to be part of the best of the best.
Since diplomatic tensions are beginning to lessen between the United States and Cuba, it opens up a brand new crop of talent, all waiting to join the professional teams in Major League Baseball.
Cuban born players have a history for defecting from their country in order to take residency elsewhere, allowing them to sign with the big league clubs. Over the past few years, several of these players are joining the ranks of MLB and they have made quite a notable impact, which could lead to more and more defectors seen in team rosters. In fact, since 1980, out of the 225 players that have defected from Cuba to join MLB, nearly 50 of them have come over the past 5 years.
Although this past year has included many high-profile signings from Cuban born players, there was actually one fewer from this time last season (18). But that does not mean there are not a large percentage of foreign born players in MLB, showing a large portion of players on opening day rosters from Latin countries.
Major League Baseball said 230 of 868 players on opening-day rosters were born outside the 50 states (26.5%). Players born in 17 countries and territories outside the 50 states, the most since 2001 and one short of the record set in 1998. The Dominican Republic tops the list with 83 and has at least one player on every team’s roster except the Washington Nationals. Latin countries are well represented on the list including Venezuela (65), Puerto Rico (13), and Mexico (9).
One surprising fact about foreign born players in the professional ranks is that nearly half of the players in the minor leagues are from outside the 50 states (48.8%). This could mean that it is only a matter of time until we see an influx of these foreign born players in Major League Baseball, including many from Cuba.
Two of this off-season big name signings from Cuban born players. Yasmany Tomas signed a six season contract for $68.5 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks (left) and Rusney Castillo signed a seven season, $72.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox (right).