Unless you’re a dedicated baseball fan or follow Ken Rosenthal on Twitter, you may not know the name Rusney Castillo. That is probably going to change soon, as he is expected to sign a free-agent contract in the not-too-distant future, becoming the latest international import to incite a bidding war among MLB teams. If rumors are to be believed, his contract might even end up north of $50 million. And recent history suggests that even that might be a bargain.
The sport seems to be pretty far removed from the days of Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa. Certainly, there was a time when major-league teams — okay, most often the Yankees — threw significant money to bring over international players who turned out to be duds. But lately, there have been few better ways to spend money than on the international free agent market. Especially if you’ve been buying a hitter from Cuba.
Since the start of the 2010 season, seven hitters have defected from Cuba, signed major-league contracts worth at least $10 million in guaranteed money and played in the majors this season. Here are those seven players:
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