23 Cuban baseball players were included in the payroll of a MLB franchise in the 2017 season. That was how Cuba became the third Latin American country with the highest number of players in Major Leagues, only surpassed by the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
These Cuban athletes showed their talent and convinced the owners and managers of the teams that offered them megabuck contracts. Who are the 10 players receiving the highest amount of money this year? PanamericanWorld proposes this peculiar ranking.
YOENIS CESPEDES. NEW YORK METS. WAGE IN 2017: 22.5 MILLION DOLLARS
The Granma-born fielder signed with the New York Mets the biggest contract in the history of a Cuban ballplayer. After leading the New Yorkers in the qualification stage to the 2015 World Series, where they lost five games against the Kansas City Royals, Cespedes signed up for 3 years, with the possibility of quitting the contract after the 2016 campaign. The Cuban player had acceptable numbers and, advised by his agent, decided to negotiate a new agreement. The economic maneuver worked great and the Mets decided to keep Cespedes for four seasons and 110 million dollars (22.5 in 2017 and 29 million dollars per year through 2020).
AROLDIS CHAPMAN. NEW YORK YANKEES. WAGE: 21 MILLION DOLLARS
Chapman kicked off the 2016 season with the New York Yankees. After missing the first month because of the sanction imposed by the Commissioner for a domestic violence incident, he did it well; but, after the first half of the campaign, the Yankees “restructured” the lineup and sent him to the Chicago Cubs. The transfer was applauded by Chapman, who became a key player to the Cubs in the World Series, against the Cleveland Indians. After the Autumn Classic and as a freelancer, Chapman received from the Yankees the best contract in the history of a relief pitcher: 86 million dollars, for 5 years. In 2017, the fastest pitcher in MLB will be given 21 million dollars (15 as basic wage and 6 million dollars as a bonus for signing with the Yankees).
YULIESKY GURRIEL. HOUSTON ASTROS. WAGE IN 2017: 14.4 MILLION DOLLARS
In 2016, the Houston Astros won the struggle to hired Yuliesky Gurriel, a 32 year old player that stood out in Cuba’s National Series and Japan’s baseball, for a year. The Astros offered 47.5 million dollars for 5 years, a truly high figure for a three-decade player, but Houston looks forward to being back in the playoffs thanks to Gurriel’s bat. In 2017, Gurriel is going to make 14.4 million dollars (14 million dollars as wage, plus 400 thousand as a bonus for signing up).
RUSNEY CASTILLO. BOSTON RED SOX. WAGE IN 2017: 11.2 MILLION DOLLARS
The Boston Red Sox still regret the huge contract they offered Castillo back in 2014: 72.5 million dollars for seven years, 5.4 million dollars of which are a bonus for signing up. Castillo has been a tremendous letdown and hasn’t been able to stand out in Major Leagues. He has spent most of the time in Triple A, although some people are still waiting for the 29 year old player’s talent to be unleashed. In 2017, Boston is going to pay him 11.2 million dollars (10.5 as wage and 770 mil as a bonus).
JOSE DARIEL ABREU. CHICAGO WHITE SOX. WAGE IN 2017: 10.8 MILLION DOLLARS
The Cienfuegos-born player caused such a good impression in his first season with the Chicago White Sox, back in 2014, that he was given the Rookie of the Year Award in the American League. He had decent numbers in the next two seasons, although the team’s executives were asking for more from the strong batter. However, after paying 34 million dollars for the first three years, the White Sox decided to give him a new chance to lead a team with the only Latin American manager in MLB: Rick Renteria. Abreu signed up for a year and 10.8 million dollars.
KENDRYS MORALES. TORONTO BLUE JAYS. WAGE IN 2017: 10 MILLION DOLLARS
After losing Dominican Edwin Encarnacion, the Toronto Blue Jays were looking for a powerful slugger, with experience in MLB. 33 year old Cuban Kendrys Morales was the winning choice and he was offered 33 million dollars for 3 years. Morales played with the Kansas City Royals and conquered the World Series in 2015. In 2017, the player from Havana is going to earn 10 million dollars.
Yasmany Tomas. Arizona Diamondbacks. Wage in 2017: 9.5 million dollars
Tomas “The Tank” plays his third season with Arizona, a team that looks forward to winning the West division of the National League and going to the playoff. Tomas has strengthen his position as a good batter, with great strength, and that’s why he is the fifth best-paid Cuban player in MLB this year, with wage 9.5 million dollars (6 as part of the contract and 3.5 million dollars for signing up).
YASIEL PUIG. LOS ANGELES DODGERS. WAGE IN 2017: 8.2 MILLION DOLLARS
Puig seems to be a more mature player this season; although he hasn’t lost the explosiveness when playing and keeps the strength of his arm, so he has become one of the fielders runners are afraid of. The Dodgers have threatened to transfer him, but they haven’t and he will make 8.2 million dollars this year (6.5 as wage and 1.7 million dollars for signing up the 7 year contract, back in 2012).
YUNEL ESCOBAR. LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM. WAGE IN 2017: 7 MILLION DOLLARS
This veteran baseball player, who has played for several franchises, is going to have another year in Anaheim, where he has spent most of the time as part of the regular lineup. In 2017, Escobar is going to make 7 million dollars.
LEONYS MARTIN. SEATTLE MARINERS (FREE). WAGE IN 2017: 4.8 MILLION DOLLARS
The player from Villa Clara signed up for a year and 4.8 million dollars with the Seattle Mariners, but his beginning was so terrible that the executives decided to take him out of the payroll. In his seven seasons, between the Rangers and Mariners, Martin has made 24.5 million dollars.