List of Cuban Defectors

From BR Bullpen

The people listed below left Cuba following the communist revolution of Fidel Castro. Some left their homeland specifically to play professional baseball which was abolished in Cuba. Alexei Ramirez said that he did not consider himself a defector when he left Cuba but is still included in this list. Not included are people who played outside Cuba with the permission of the Cuban government (Fausto Alvarez, Omar Linares, Remigio Leal, etc.)

On December 19, 2018, Major League Baseball reached a deal with the Cuban Baseball Federation establishing a legal path for players to transfer to Organized Baseball. However, this agreement, which would have largely brought an end to defections, was revoked by the Trump Administration the following April, as it objected to transfer fees being paid to the Federation.

In 2019, Yuniesky Betancourt became the first player to return to Cuba after having defected and played in MLB, followed soon by Erisbel Arruebaruena. Pavel Quesada and Lisban Correa also returned around this time after not signing with a MLB team. In the 2023 World Baseball Classic, players who had defected were allowed to play for the Cuban national team for the first time without having been repatriated, opening the door for some defectors to appear for the national team for the first time, such as Luis Robert.

Players marked with a ^ left Cuba as children and thus had no political motive of their own. Players in bold appeared for the Cuban national team. Players marked with a * later returned to Cuba and continued their careers there.

Major League Players[edit]

Major League Managers[edit]

Minor League Players[edit]


(Correa, Drake and Quesada played on the national team after returning to Cuba, not before defecting; Arruebarrena played for the national team both before defecting and after returning)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Associated Press: "Cuban baseball opening runs into trouble", USA Today, September 22, 2014. [1]
  • Associated Press: "Officials: Suspicion abounds in Cuban player documents", USA Today, February 9, 2017. [2]
  • Adam Berry: "Putting together the All-Cuban defector team: From 1991 to now, selects greatest at each position",, December 18, 2014. [3]
  • Peter C. Bjarkman: Cuba's Baseball Defectors: The Inside Story, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4422-4798-7
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "For Cuban stars, money can't buy smooth assimilation to USA, MLB", USA Today Sports, March 28, 2016. [4]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Cuba: Island of Baseball: Documentary focuses on risk, reward of Cuban defectors", USA Today Sports, December 12, 2016. [5]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz and Alan Gomez: "MLB, MLBPA strike deal with Cuba that allows players to be scouted, signed without defecting", USA Today, December 19, 2018. [6]
  • Jesse Sanchez: "Which Cuban players are headed for the bigs?",, November 11, 2015. [7]

Related Sites[edit]