Yasiel Puig is officially an American…
The 28-year-old Cuban-born Cleveland Indians, who defected from Cuba in 2012, became an American citizen on Wednesday.
Puig posted a photo on Twitterwith the message: “Thank you God for this great opportunity to be an American citizen.”
Puig’s journey to the United States was long, dangerous and complicated. A star on the Cuban national team, he made four attempts to defect from Cuba before being successfully transported out of the country by an alien-smuggling-and-boat-theft ring with links to the Mexican cartel Los Zetas. He subsequently faced death threats and extortion attempts as a result of his escape.
He went to Mexico first, because if he had gone directly to the U.S., he would have been subject to the Major League Baseball draft. Puig established residency in Mexico, allowing him to negotiate a lucrative free-agent contract. Puig signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in June 2012, a record for a Cuban defector. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in December 2018 and came over to the Indians as part of a three-team deal on July 31.
A career .277 hitter with 131 home runs and 398 RBIs over seven seasons, Puig has gotten off to a good start with the Indians, hitting .357 with a home run and six RBIs in 11 games. He is currently serving a three-game suspension for his part in a brawl when he was with Cincinnati.
Puig is the fourth member of the Indians to become an American citizen this year, joining Carlos Santana, Oliver Perez and Hanley Ramirez,who was waived in April.