While baseball may be the great American pastime, Major League Baseball has experienced an influx in foreign-born players over the years. At the start of the 2013 season, 241 of the 856 players on MLB rosters were born outside of the United States. According to the league, 89 players came from the Dominican Republic with 63 from Venezuela, 17 from Canada and 15 from Cuba.
There are fifteen countries outside the United States that are the birthplaces of current MLB stars. This includes eleven players from Japan, two from Australia and one from Taiwan, to name a few.
Regardless of their birthplace, MLB players are among the highest paid athletes in the world. There are twenty-one players in the league who earned $20 million or more in the 2013 season and not all of these players are Americans like New York native Alex Rodriguez, Louisiana-born Vernon Wells or Californian C.C. Sabathia. Baseball is extremely popular in places like South America and the Caribbean, and many elite athletes move to the states to make a fortune playing the sport.
This listing of the highest-earning non-American MLB players is based on salaries from the start of the 2013 season. These ten foreign-born MLB players are not only extremely talented but also well-paid thanks to their strong efforts on the field. It’s especially important to note that some of these players may not make it to this list in 2014. The potential for players like Dominican Republic native Robinson Cano to make $30 million in the 2014 season could be huge and have a significant impact on the league. Still, These players are living proof that you don’t have to necessarily be American-born to earn a taste of the American dream.
10. Justin Morneau – Canada – $15 Million in 2013
Justin Morneau, who is originally from British Columbia, was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2013 season and earned $15 million that year. However, he is going to be a free agent, thus potentially allowing him to head back to Minnesota where he played for eleven years. Morneau is a 2006 American League MVP title winner who has doubled his annual salary since his 2008 season.
9. Hiroki Kuroda – Japan – $15 Million in 2013
Hiroki Kuroda is originally from Osaka Japan and earned a $15 million salary from the New York Yankees over the past season. While this was only a one-year deal, Kuroda made more with the Yankees this year than he did during a four-year deal with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball league in the mid-2000s. He had a deal worth 1.2 billion yen or $9.5 million US while playing in Japan. Few can blame him for crossing the pond to play in the States.
8. Hanley Ramirez – Dominican Republic – $15.5 Million in 2013
Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Hanley Ramirez earned $15.5 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013. This is a significant increase from the $7 million he got in 2010 or $11 million in 2011 from the Florida Marlins. Interestingly enough, the Dodgers paid $216 million to their starting roster in 2013, over five times the Marlins team salary of $39 million. Money troubles facilitated the Marlins trading Ramirez to the Dodgers in 2012.
7. Adrian Beltre – Dominican Republic – $16 Million in 2013
Adrian Beltre’s five-year contract with the Texas Rangers will pay him at least $80 million with $16 million entering his pocket in 2013. The Dominican Republic native will get $17 million during the 2014 season while also getting an optional extension of the same value in 2016. Beltre has received MVP votes in all of the last four seasons. His current salary is considerably more than the $9 million that he got in 2010 during his one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.
6. Albert Pujols – Dominican Republic – $16 Million in 2013
Albert Pujols has a ten-year, $250 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that started in 2012. The Dominican Republic native’s salary will increase over time as he will go from $16 million in 2013 to $23 million in 2014 and up to $30 million by 2021. His salary from this past year matches the total he made during his final year with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.
5. Joey Votto – Canada – $18.9 Million in 2013
Joey Votto, a first baseman originally from Toronto, has become the most popular and highest-paid Canadian player in the majors today. His $18.9 million salary will increase as he signed a ten-year, $225 million deal with the Reds starting in 2014. He’ll only get $12 million in 2014 but will be earning $25 million by 2018. Votto has led the league in on-base percentage in recent years and has become a regular all-star for the National League.
4. Alfonso Soriano – Dominican Republic – $19 Million in 2013
Alfonso Soriano, a Dominican Republic native, was traded from the Cubs to the Yankees in the middle part of the 2013 season. He played for the Yankees from 1998 to 2003 and had spent the last seven years on the north side of Chicago. Soriano’s numbers with the Cubs weren’t as strong as they were with the Yankees so this may prove to be an appealing move to boost his career.
3. Felix Hernandez – Venezuela – $20.55 Million in 2013
Felix Hernandez is a Venezuelan pitcher who signed a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Seattle Mariners in 2013. He’ll get as much as $27.85 million in his last year in 2019. King Felix is beloved among people in Seattle for his strikeout skills as he has averaged around one strikeout or more per inning in recent years. People will come out to his games wearing paper crowns and holding bright “K” cards at his games to cheer him on.
2. Miguel Cabrera – Venezuela- $21 Million in 2013
Miguel Cabrera, a Venezuela native, is a prominent figure who won the 2012 Triple Crown for having a better batting average and more home runs and RBIs than anyone in the American League. This helped him to land $21 million in 2013. He will be earning $22 million per year for the next two years. He also got a $200,000 bonus for winning the AL MVP title.
1. Johan Santana – Venezuela – $25.5 Million in 2013
Johan Santana is originally from Venezuela and had a six-year, $137.5 million contract with the New York Mets that ended in 2013. His $25.5 million is the highest total that he earned while with the Mets. His next best year earned him $20 million in 2009. The biggest thing about Santana is that he was out during the 2013 season in spite of his big salary. He tore his shoulder for a second time, posting concerns about what he’ll earn in 2014 or if he’ll even be with the Mets.
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