Since 1871, 230 Canadians have played Major League Baseball. Canada’s influence on the game has grown over the years, making an established connection with the MLB with the arrival of the Montreal Expos in 1969. The Toronto Blue Jays would arrive almost a decade later in 1977, solidifying Canada’s interest in the Great American Passtime. Unfortunately, the Expos dwindled in the later part of the 20th century and left for Washington after the 2004 season, but the Blue Jays are still around.
Canada’s impact on baseball extends beyond the major leagues. Many minor league teams can be found all around Canada; one of the most notable clubs being the Montreal Royals, a team that was affiliated with the Brooklyn Dodgers for an extensive period of time. The 1946 Royals were particularly famous as Jackie Robinson had played with them prior to breaking baseball’s color barrier in Brooklyn the next year.
As of the start of the 2013 season there were 29 active Canadian players in Major League Baseball with 17 being pitchers and only 12 position players.
Whether or not any player from Canada who is in the majors today will end up joining the Hall of Fame just like Chatham, Ontario native Ferguson Jenkins is unclear; only time can tell as to who will make it that far. Of course, we have already seen some recent Canadian players become batting champions like Maple Ridge, British Columbia native Larry Walker.
One thing is for certain about Canadians in the MLB according to this list: while the majority may not be household names like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, a handful of them have managed to become highly successful in the MLB. They may be greatly outnumbered by their neighbours from the south, among other countries, but their presence in the league can still be felt.
10. Phillippe Aumont – Philadelphia Phillies – $490,000 in 2013
Gatineau, Quebec’s Phillippe Aumont was a minor league staple until 2013 when he became a regular setup man with the Phillies. He made $490,000 in 2013 after pitching in 22 games and getting around 11.2 strikeouts for every nine innings that he pitched. This came well after Seattle drafted him in 2007 and eventually traded him to Philly two years later in a deal that brought Cliff Lee to the Mariners.
9. Taylor Green – Milwaukee Brewers – $500,000 in 2013
Taylor Green from Comox, British Columbia was a frequent pinch hitter and outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers who earned $500,000 in guaranteed pay in 2013. This, even though he underwent hip surgery in the beginning part of the season and missed the entire year. He was cut from the Brewers afterwards but still walked away with his $500,000 salary. Despite his injury, Green does have talent as he was on Canada’s WBC roster in 2013.
8. Eric Bedard – Houston Astros – $1.15 Million in 2013
Erik Bedard, who is from Navan, Ontario, had an underwhelming 4-12 record in 2013. He has not done much in the game since he missed the 2010 season with a serious shoulder injury. While he was getting $3.4 million in 2007 when he went 13-5 for the Baltimore Orioles, he has since struggled and is only making $1.15 million this year. He will be a free agent in 2014 but it is uncertain as to whether or not his career will regain the lustre it once had.
7. Jeff Francis – Colorado Rockies – $1.5 Million in 2013
Vancouver’s Jeff Francis has a 4.94 career ERA in nine years as a starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies. However, much of this could be attributed to how he plays many of his games at Denver’s Coors Field, a stadium believed to be baseball’s most hitter-friendly park thanks to its elevation. Francis made $1.5 million in 2013, a far cry from his career high $5.75 million salary with the Rockies in 2009.
6. Jesse Crain – Chicago White Sox/Tampa Bay Rays – $4.5 Million in 2013
Toronto’s own Jesse Crain played in Minnesota and on Chicago’s south side for the first ten years of his career and was traded to the Rays in 2013 where he has yet to play a game. His skill as a setup man has given him a 3.05 ERA in his career while achieving a 0.74 ERA in 36.2 innings this past year. This brought Crain an All-Star nod and made him worth his $4.5 million salary. Still, injury concerns have made it uncertain whether his stock will continue to rise.
5. John Axford – Milwaukee Brewers/St. Louis Cardinals – $5 Million in 2013
A pitcher from Simcoe, Ontario, John Axford used to be a closer for the Brewers but has since become a much needed setup man in St. Louis as the Cardinals suffered multiple bullpen injuries late last season. He earned $5 million in 2013, a dramatic change from the $525,000 that he was earning just a year before. The Cardinals covered a good portion of the salary after the deadline-day trade.
4. Russell Martin – Pittsburgh Pirates – $6.5 Million in 2013
Hailing from East York, Ontario, Russell Martin is a three-time All-Star who had played catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees before going to Pittsburgh in 2013. Martin’s $6.5 million salary will move to $8.5 million in 2014. He has been earning $4 million or more each year since 2010 thanks to having one of the best percentages among catchers in the league for preventing stolen bases. He has a 31.4% career caught stealing record.
3. Ryan Dempster – Boston Red Sox – $13.2 Million in 2013
A native of Sechlt, British Columbia, Ryan Dempster spent nine years with the Chicago Cubs and has received plenty of money since being a Cy Young favorite in 2008. The Cubs paid him $13.5 million per year near the end of his time with the team in 2012. He was signed to a two-year deal with the Red Sox in 2013 and will get the same total salary in 2014 even after winning a World Series title.
2. Justin Morneau – Minnesota Twins/Pittsburgh Pirates – $14 Million in 2013
New Westminster, British Columbia’s Justin Morneau was traded to Pittsburgh midway through 2013 for the Pirates’ run to their first playoff appearance in 21 years. Now that the Twins have moved Joe Mauer to first, Morneau may be in demand for 2014. While he’s been batting below .270 for the past few years, he still got $14 million in the last year of his contract in 2013 and could command a similar value on the market.
1. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds – $17 Million in 2013
While Joey Votto did earn a very decent $17 million from the Cincinnati Reds in 2013, this number is expected to increase. Votto’s new contract with the Reds will pay him more than $230 million up until 2024 and he will be paid $25 million per year from 2018 to 2023. Votto, a Toronto native, has been a four-time All-Star and has one MVP award under his belt. His stock has risen at an incredible rate, seeing as how he earned just $390,000 in 2008.
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