Cuban National Players in MLB v2021

This year’s edition is late but once again we note professional baseball players who hail from Cuba and are now playing in Major League Baseball (MLB). The list is compiled from those making the 40 player roster of the thirty MLB teams. Like many professional sports in the United States the rosters have become more diversified representing players from all over the globe.

Cuba has a tremendous baseball legacy. It is the national sport. It became a key topic in my journey to explore the Negro League’s presence in a country where the teams were welcomed and a strong brotherhood was created. Before the U.S. imposed embargo players and many teams took great joy to make the trek to the Caribbean’s largest country. Even though key players have departed resulting in a sharp decline of their status in World Baseball Rankings, they still pose a threat to teams that take them lightly. In the last decade they were consistently in the top 5 and now find themselves in 11th place. During my recent visit to Esquina Caliente in downtown Havana the sentiment from the locals was it is time for the Cuban Baseball Federation to retool and make adjustments so they can regain their prestige on the world stage.

A couple of notes from this year’s edition

  • The 2021 lineup totals 25 players
  • American league teams have the majority of players at 17.
  • The National league has 8.
  • Surprisingly 15 teams have ZERO players (5 from American and 10 from National)
  • Cuban National players account for approximately 2% of all players.
  • MLB escalated investing in Latin America in the early ’60’s and it is not surprising that Dominican Republic leads the pack.
  • Another important feature of this list is understanding Cuban baseball is still strong but over the years the top talent has been diluted as more players have defected or made it over to the U.S.A.

TEAMS20202021Change 2021 v 2020
Arizona Diamondbacks101
Atlanta Braves132
Baltimore Orioles110
Boston Red Sox000
Chicago Cubs000
Chicago White Sox341
Cincinatti Reds121
Cleveland Indians000
Colorado Rockies000
Detroit Tigers000
Houston Astros532
Kansas City Royals110
Los Angeles Angels011
Los Angeles Dodgers011
Miami Marlins000
Milwaukee Brewers000
Minnesota Twins000
New York Mets000
New York Yankees011
Oakland Athletics011
Philadelphia Phillies000
Pittsburgh Pirates000
San Diego Padres211
San Francisco Giants000
Seattle Mariners000
St. Louis Cardinals211
Tampa Bay Rays220
Texas Rangers121
Toronto Blue Jays110
Washington Nationals101

Fred is a baseball historian who has studied and researched the game at length. His relationship to Cuba stemmed from understanding how the Negro Leagues operated during segregation. Further he has been able to visit many stadiums in Cuba while taking in various games. Currently his visits have escalated and allowed him to visit many landmarks as well as interview those in Cuba who understand the current dynamic as well as a historical appreciation of when the Negro Leagues were prominent and how the sport was a common denominator to bridge the communication gap.

Cuban National Players in MLB – v2020

The Major League Baseball (MLB) season of 2020 will forever be remembered by the worldwide Covid pandemic. The season was adjusted so that all involved in the national pastime could be played in conditions deemed as safe as possible. MLB continued its international appeal although surprisingly the number of players as part of each team’s 40 player active roster, dropped by 3 from the previous year. Cuba is the Caribbean’s largest country and also known as a Latin powerhouse. For the 2020 season twenty-two players are part of MLB’s thirty team active rosters. Cuba is the Caribbean’s largest country and prides itself as a Latin baseball powerhouse and ranks in the top five around the globe. A key metric not openly discussed is the national team has lost some of its lustre through defections as stars lucky enough to be noticed by an MLB team gladly make the transition. Similarly to the Negro Leagues before Jackie Robinson broke the color-barrier was its popularity. However once Robinson opened the door the rest is history as many wanted to see those “stars.” Thus the Negro Leagues “prime product” was diluted and eventually disappeared. Hopefully high level baseball in Cuba can be sustained.

One more point about this year’s lineup, two star studded players have experience in MLB but as of this writing are not officially on any teams roster.

Yoenis Cespedes & Yasiel Puig